Writing Demand Letters to Settle Personal Injury Claims
If you’ve been injured in an accident caused by the carelessness of another person, you may have to draft a demand letter to the other party's insurance company before you receive compensation for your injuries. A demand letter gives you the opportunity to explain the incident, describe your injuries and damage, and request a payment amount to settle the claim without further litigation. Below are the basic elements that should be in any demand letter you create:
Your side of the story: Write a brief account of the accident and refer to any notes you have, police reports, relevant laws, or any other records. Keep it simple and just stick to the facts. Avoid the temptation to use inflammatory language and inject your emotions into the description (e.g., how you really feel about the other driver's abilities).
Why the other party was at fault: Explain why the accident was the other party's fault. Again, keep your explanation respectful, factual, and short, but don't hold back here. If the other party rammed into you while you came to a full stop at a stop sign, make it clear that you were abiding by traffic laws and the other party obviously couldn't have been if he or she ran into you (e.g., the other driver failed to follow laws regarding distances between cars).
Don't admit your own fault: Do not admit any wrongdoing on your own part in your letter. It's the insurance company’s job to discover that information on its own and raise that point. This letter is advocating for your position, so set forth the facts as truthfully, but favorably, as you can. If the insurance company wants to negotiate and brings up the issue of your own fault, you can respond to any potential questions at that time.
Your injuries: Describe your injuries in great detail. Especially concentrate on any long-lasting or permanent injuries as those deserve more compensation than short-term injuries. Don't lie and exaggerate, but if you have chronic pain, you should not be shy about it. If possible, be as specific as you can about the particular injury and use appropriate medical terms as well.
Your medical expenses: Include a complete list of your medical expenses, which means a detailed accounting of where you were treated, who treated you, and what you were charged for that treatment. The other party’s insurance company may request that you get an independent medical examination.
Your lost income: If you missed any time at work, or your work suffered as a result of the injury, detail any such lost time. Get a letter from your employer confirming the lost time and your pay level.
Any other losses or expenses: Include any other losses or expenses that have resulted from the accident. This can include intangible things such as embarrassment, inconvenience, and anxiety.
Your settlement demand: Calculate the amount of money that would compensate you given what you have claimed, and then increase it considerably (up to twice as much as your calculation) to give you room to negotiate with the insurance adjuster.
Supporting Documents: Any demand letter you create should always include any supporting documentation that verifies your claims (medical records, bills, police reports, etc.).
Getting Legal Help
Before sending a demand letter, be sure you understand the basics of injury and accident law. You may also consider contacting an experienced personal injury attorney free of charge to discuss your injuries and possible legal action beyond the demand letter.