What Is a Personal Injury Demand Letter, and What Role Does it Play in a Claim?
Tens of millions of Americans are injured every year, many of whom have a case to make a claim against a liable party. When someone is injured and it is not their fault, they can pursue compensation for the financial damages that follow. Rather than go to court, most people try to gain a direct settlement.
A demand letter is used to do this, but what is a personal injury demand letter?
Understanding what a demand letter is, how to write one, and why it is important can help people get ahead in their personal injury claims and get the fair compensation they deserve.
What Is a Demand Letter in Personal Injury Law?
In short, a demand letter is the first notice given of intent to pursue compensation in a personal injury claim. It is sent to the at-fault party's insurance company, usually via a lawyer on behalf of the victim.
Personal injury demand letters inform the insurance company of the victim's intent and aim to launch settlement negotiations in an effort to avoid a lengthy court case.
What Is the Purpose of Sending a Demand Letter in a Personal Injury Case?
Demand letters are used to kick start out-of-court personal injury cases between the victim, their personal injury attorneys, the liable party, and their insurance adjuster.
The purpose of sending one is to state a clear case for why the person is responsible and what the victim wants in order to settle the claim without a trial.
Sending a personal injury demand letter does not mean the person has filed a lawsuit. In contrast, it is sent in an attempt to avoid having to file a lawsuit at all.
Who Can Send a Demand Letter?
Anybody who has been injured in an accident or incident that was caused by someone else's negligence or actions can send a settlement demand letter for a potential personal injury case- but it is more effective to have a lawyer draft one and send it.
Insurance companies do not want to engage in settlement negotiations, but they are far more likely to take communications seriously if they come from a recognized Indianapolis injury law firm.
What Details are Included in a Personal Injury Demand Letter?
A good quality demand letter is detailed, precise, and to the point.
It includes all the relevant information needed to explain the case, the evidence to show the person is liable, and a summary of what expenses the victim intends to claim as part of the settlement.
It should also cover the victim's intentions if they do not receive the settlement they want.
Here is an overview of what sample demand letters include.
A clear and concise description of the accident and how it happened: The description of the accident or incident must be factual, detailed, and complete.
Evidence to prove fault beyond a doubt to convince the insurance company that they are, in fact, liable: There cannot be any doubt about the person's liability. Otherwise, the insurance company will refuse to negotiate.
Detailed account of the expenses and damages caused: Include medical bills and other related medical expenses, property damage costs, lost wages, pain and suffering (emotional distress), etc., to justify the proposed settlement amount.
A set deadline for response before further steps will be taken: Give the opposing party a timeframe in which they must reply. Make sure it is a reasonable amount of time and gives them a fair chance to arrange a response, but not too long that it doesn't seem urgent.
Statement of intent to escalate if a response is not received and a settlement is not reached: What happens if they don't reply? Include details of what next steps the victim and their attorneys plan to take.
How to Ensure a Demand Letter is Effective
The quality of the demand letter sent can set the tone for the negotiations that follow. A poorly written one can create an uphill battle for victims.
There are certain steps people can take to ensure their letter is powerful, effective, and motivational for the insurance company to respond and react with a strong settlement offer.
Ask for a sample demand letter from a trusted attorney.
Gather as much evidence as possible before drafting the letter, and show it clearly in the final draft.
Collect all medical records and other expense receipts to include in the letter.
Put together a convincing and detailed case for why the other party is liable.
Speak to a lawyer about what you can claim for and how to express it.
Be realistic and reasonable with your demands, including the settlement amount and the deadline for response.
Make sure your intent for the next steps is expressly clear.
Have an attorney draft the letter on your behalf.
Why Hire an Attorney to Assist in Drafting a Demand Letter?
Having an experienced personal injury attorney draft a demand letter is highly recommended for many reasons.
First, insurance companies are far more likely to respond favorably to a demand letter sent by a lawyer than an individual, and there is a better chance of successful negotiations to follow.
Also, an attorney can ensure the letter includes everything it needs to be effective. They have expertise on their side and are better prepared to draft a letter that invokes the desired response.
It also removes any doubt about the legality of the demand letter.
Overall, it is in the victim's best interest to get a legal professional to take the lead in drafting their demand letter because it makes it more effective and can improve their chances of getting the settlement they want.
Work with a Personal Injury Lawyer who will Go to War for Your Personal Injury Claim
Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys go to war for Indy victims and fight for the justice they deserve. Every step of the way, this elite legal team leaves no stone unturned as they seek to maximize compensation and ease the burden of clients. They will help explain bodily injury vs personal injury as well.
Anyone who needs assistance drafting and sending an effective demand letter to kick-start their personal injury case can rely on the legal professionals at Schuerger Shunnarah to provide the support they need.