The most common form of personal injury claims involve slip and falls, dog bites, and car accidents. Usually, the insurance company of the at-fault party settles the victim’s claim. If you’ve been seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence, you will need an experienced personal injury attorney to negotiate and deal with the insurance company. After you’ve recovered, you can begin the negotiation phase of an injury claim. This begins with making a written personal injury demand letter for compensation to the insurance company. In this blog, we give you some examples of what you need to write a professional-looking and effective claim letter.
What is a personal injury demand letter?
A personal injury demand letter lets the other party know that you are seeking damages for your injury. It begins the process of negotiation of a potential settlement. It is a crucial part of your process. You want a demand letter that is well constructed. You must present your damages and case in a professional manner. This can set the stage for a quick settlement process. A poorly written letter can gravely hurt your case.
It must be factual and truthful. If it is poorly worded or contains grammatical errors, it could end up negatively impacting your case. Do not make spelling mistakes. Have someone else read it over for you.
How do you start a demand letter?
The top of your demand letter must explain the relationships between the parties and their identities. It should include your name, address, and date of writing or sending the letter. If you will be sending your letter to an insurance company, you include its name, address, and a line that directs the letter to the attention of an adjuster.
After that, you write the name and address of the at-fault party. Include their policy number and any claim number if the letter should be directed also to their insurance carrier.
You end your heading with the date and type of injury. You must also state that you are sending the letter for settlement purposes. This means that if you end up suing, this letter cannot “cap” your compensation.
How much should I ask for in a demand letter?
Always speak to an experienced personal injury attorney before you demand or settle for a specific amount in a settlement. Generally, you should ask 75% to 100% higher than you would actually be satisfied with. If you think your claim is worth between $3,000 and $4,000, you should first ask for $6,000 to $8,000.
What do you need in a personal injury demand letter?
You will need not only the demand letter, you will also need copies of your supporting documentation. Some of the crucial evidence includes:
- Wage verification
- Police reports
- Witness statements
- Medical bills
In most cases, a good demand packet contains as many as 20 or 30 pages. You will need to use a letter sized envelope to hold the packet without folding the pages. Send the letter with certified USPS mail, and include a return receipt request.
In terms of the structure of a demand letter, after your heading, you will need to include:
Presentation of the facts
The presentation of the facts will occur in the body of the letter. Explain the events that preceded your injury. Next, give a step description of the events that led to your accident. Provide as much detail as possible.
Avoid any technical arguments. It is permissible, and sometimes desirable to use “approximate” language. Avoid saying “Sunday January 1 at 12:23 pm.” This will prevent the insurance company from denying your claim due to an incorrect detail.
Description of damages
This includes the hard costs, called “special damages.” You can prove these by showing:
- Medical bills
- Lost wage statements
- Receipts for medications
Next you will talk about your “general damages.” These are intangible losses. You will need to use vivid and descriptive language. It is important to emphasize the pain, suffering, and emotional distress you experienced. You can include specific details demonstrating that your life was altered such as:
- The injury required you to cancel a vacation or important business trip
- The injury prevented you from caring for your children
- You were not able to attend an important family event
- The prescription medication you needed to take for your pain prevented you from performing daily functions
You need to walk the adjuster through every step along your road to recovery. Here, you can talk about the levels of pain and discomfort you experienced.
Make it very clear that you believe the at-fault party is responsible for your injury. Bring all of the facts of the case together to prove that the injuries happened because of the insured party’s negligence. The injury was absolutely not your fault.
How long after a personal injury demand letter does the settlement take?
First your attorney at Gordon & Gordon will go through all of your medical records. Next they will finalize a draft and send it to the appropriate parties. Once the demand letter is sent, it usually takes the insurance company anywhere from 20-60 days to respond. If they accept the demand letter, you can proceed to settlement and receive the damages you asked for. You will probably have to sign a release of liability. This means that you won’t be able to take any legal action for the injury in the future. Sometimes, the insurance company would make a counterThe time it takes for you to get a response depends on the insurance company and how complicated your case is.
What do you do if you don’t get a response to your demand letter?
This is not likely. As long as you are sending your demand letter to an insurer or a large company, you should absolutely expect a response. If you don’t, something probably went wrong. These companies have many staff members to respond to demand letters. You can contact them to make sure that they received your letter. Ultimately, if they do fail to respond to your demand letter, they can expect a lawsuit.
Get help with your personal injury demand letter
The Shreveport personal injury attorneys at Gordon & Gordon have helped their clients in writing many demand letters. They have many years of experience in building strong cases, starting with a powerful letter. If you are unsure of how to begin your letter, or need legal advice on the best way to proceed, contact us online or give us a call at 318-716-HELP.