Writing a Winning Demand Letter – Ultimate Guide
After an accident that results in injuries or significant financial losses, victims can start negotiations to settle their personal injury case and recover compensation.
This process often begins with a demand letter, which is sent to the at-fault party's insurance company to provide information about how much money injured people expect to receive in compensation.
Demand letters are an essential part of the insurance settlement process, as they contain key details to determine liability and calculate the potential monetary compensation. This formal document can also help insurance adjusters understand the facts of the accident and victims' expectations effectively.
In this regard, it's crucial to know how to write a winning demand letter to reach a fair settlement after a personal injury occurs. Here's a comprehensive guide on how to craft one to get the best outcome possible.
What Is a Personal Injury Demand Letter?
A demand letter acts as the centerpiece of the insurance settlement process. Victims or their attorneys often send this formal, written document to the responsible party's insurance company.
In a settlement demand letter, a person injured in an accident caused by someone else's actions discloses what they want in compensation for the damages and losses they suffered.
The main purpose of this legal document is to start the negotiation process to resolve a dispute even before filing a personal injury claim in court, expecting to settle the case without litigation.
Demand letters should be written in a professional tone and be convincing enough to show the weight of the incident or the extent of the damages that injured people suffered. Therefore, victims should work with a quality personal injury lawyer.
Experienced personal injury attorneys can analyze the case thoroughly and write a professional demand letter. Crafting a strongly worded document can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful claim.
When Should Victims Send the Demand Letter to the Other Party?
Victims do not have to send the demand letter right after the personal injury occurs. Before crafting this document, injured persons should calculate the total extent of the damages.
In fact, demanding full compensation before knowing the accurate value of the case could affect the case and even result in fraud charges.
Ideally, victims should work with a seasoned personal injury lawyer to determine the exact amount of money they will need in compensation for their medical bills, payroll wages, and other expenses related to the accident. After that, they can send the demand letter to the at-fault insurance company.
Injured people should always inform insurers that the accident occurred and caused harm within a day or two. However, the final lawsuit is often sent weeks or even months after the accident.
Why Should Victims Write a Personal Injury Demand Letter?
These are the top three reasons why injured people should write a professional and effective settlement demand letter after an accident caused by someone else's actions:
It Starts Settlement Negotiations
Sending a demand letter is often the first step in negotiating a fair settlement with the at-fault party's insurer.
After filing a claim with the other party's insurance company, victims often receive a low initial personal injury settlement offer.
However, the injured party can send a demand letter stating the amount they expect to receive as compensation for the accident. It should be the claimant's first meaningful move.
It Shows Victims Are Waiting for Fair Settlement
Additionally, victims demonstrate that they are not willing to just go away and will fight for their rights to recover fair compensation by sending a demand letter to insurance companies.
An injured party who submits a demand letter is likely working with a seasoned personal injury lawyer. Insurers know it. This document lets the other side know that they could bring further legal action and file a lawsuit if they do not receive a fair settlement offer.
It Favors The Personal Injury Case
Finally, a demand letter helps claimants organize their cases' evidence and present the facts.
In order to prove liability or the extent of damages, victims should gather different types of evidence, including witness statements, photos of the accident scene, medical records, and more.
Additionally, both parties often do further investigation to determine damages besides medical bills and property damages.
Injured people can begin organizing these documents and any other forms of evidence from the moment they send the demand letter.
What an Effective Settlement Demand Letter Should Include
The first step to writing a winning settlement demand letter is to know to whom the document is addressed.
Insurance adjusters often receive demand letters, calculate the claim value, and negotiate with the other party to settle the case.
However, an insurance adjuster often handles dozens or even hundreds of claims and demand letters. Therefore, injured parties should make sure theirs are businesslike and contain factual information.
Overall, this is what a demand letter should include:
The key facts
A comprehensive synopsis of the accident, including details about how and when it occurred
A list of the injuries that victims sustained
The type of medical treatment victims received for their injuries
The cost of medical treatment and other related expenses
Information on lost wages and victims’ inability to work due to injuries
Proof of medical bills, lost wages or other types of income, out-of-pocket expenses, and more
Information about other damages, such as disability, pain and suffering, and emotional distress
Why the other party is legally responsible for the injuries and damages victims suffered
Why claimants are not responsible for the accident and injuries if liability is disputed
Here's more information about the most important elements of a demand letter:
The Key Facts
The demand letter should state who was involved in the accident, as well as when, where, and how it happened.
An insurance company will likely have a side of the story when victims try to recover compensation. Therefore, sending a demand letter is the injured parties' opportunity to give their side of the story.
This document must be highly descriptive and factual. Victims should not make allegations that they cannot prove, since the insurer adjuster might ask to provide proof of the claims. Additionally, they should avoid emotional pleas that make it appear that they are not taking the process seriously.
The Injuries, Medical Expenses, and Other Damages
A demand letter should also include a list of the injuries and damages that victims suffered due to the accident.
The term "damages" describes victims' injuries and losses or expenses but expressed in dollars and cents. Claimants and their legal teams must describe both in detail.
These are some examples of injuries:
Broken bones or fractures
Sprains and strains
Spinal cord injury
Traumatic brain injury
Pain and suffering
Anxiety and depression
Post-traumatic stress disorder
The following are a few examples of the monetary damages or losses that victims can recover compensation for:
Repair or replacement of damaged property
Medical equipment costs
Future medical care
Damages are often divided into two categories: economic or special damages, which include losses expressed in dollars, and non-economic or general damages, which are losses that are difficult to quantify.
A demand letter should include documents proving these damages, such as invoices and doctor's notes.
Why the Other Party is At Fault for the Accident
Victims can only win personal injury claims in court when they are able to prove that the other party is responsible for the accident. This means that the evidence should be strong enough to convince the insurance adjuster as well.
In other words, claimants must prove that the other person was negligent or reckless and caused the accident that injured them.
Tennessee personal injury cases are handled under the modified comparative negligence legal theory. Therefore, plaintiffs should be able to prove that the homeland party caused the accident. If a claimant is found to be 50% or more at fault for the injuries, they will not be able to recover compensation for the damages.
To establish liability in Tennessee personal injury claims, an injured individual should prove these elements:
The person against whom they are bringing legal action owed them a duty of care.
The defendant breached this legal duty.
The breach of duty caused the injuries to the plaintiff.
The defendant's actions or behavior were the proximate cause of such injuries.
The plaintiff suffered actual and quantifiable damages.
In simple terms, claimants must prove that the other party did not act as a reasonable person would have done under the same circumstances, causing their injuries and monetary losses.
The Settlement Demand
Additionally, this letter should include the settlement demand. After adding all the information mentioned above, victims should total their damages to set the sum they expect to recover in compensation.
Claimants should let the insurance adjuster know that the suggested settlement amount is only a prefiling demand. Also, they should clarify that they will file a personal injury lawsuit that would cause the claim to go up if they do not receive a fair settlement offer.
Tips to Write a Winning Demand Letter
As mentioned, the demand letter plays a key role in the negotiation process and how much money victims will recover after the accident. Therefore, this document should be professional, highly descriptive, and factual.
The following tips can help claimants maximize their chances of obtaining fair compensation:
Gather Enough Evidence
Before starting to draft the demand letter, victims should collect enough evidence to support their claims.
It’s essential to have copies of all documents that can prove that what they are saying is true, such as medical and pharmaceutical records and bills. A letter from the employer’s human resources office documenting the time they were away could also be useful.
Additionally, injured people should collect other types of evidence, such as police reports and photos of the accident scene.
Do Legal Research
Understanding their legal rights is crucial for people who have been injured due to someone else's actions and plan to file a claim with the at-fault party's insurance company.
Victims should understand the basics of personal injury law, the negligence system, and the duty of care standard in Tennessee. Additionally, they should be able to differentiate and explain the different types of injuries and damages.
Ideally, claimants should work with a seasoned personal injury attorney who understands how the legal system works and what to do when an insurance company fails to make a fair settlement offer.
When victims receive guidance from experienced lawyers, they have the best chance of winning the case and recovering the compensation they deserve.
Review Their Notes
Claimants should also begin writing the claim letter in the days and weeks following the accident. If they wait too long to begin this process, remembering essential details that may affect the case will be more difficult.
The demand letter should include information about what happened, how victims were injured, the pain and discomfort they have experienced since the accident occurred, how it disrupted their lives, the type and cost of medical treatment they needed, and more. Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys can also consult on writing a reply letter to too-low settlement offer.
Make Sure the Demand Letter is Professional
Claimants should always be respectful and make sure their demand letters are professional. Personal insults, exaggerated claims, and emotional rhetoric will not benefit the case unless it does the opposite.
A person who does this exposes himself as an amateur and shows that they are not taking this process seriously.
An insurance adjuster may rely on these facts to reduce compensation, find a way to deny a claim or become stricter about the evidence to prove the allegations.
Detail Expenses and Road to Recovery
Additionally, injured people must be specific when detailing their expenses, how it has affected their lives, and their road to full recovery.
A claim letter should include key information about claimants’ medical condition, such as the following:
When the symptoms started
Type of medical treatment required
If they were transported by ambulance to the emergency room
If they were treated by paramedics after the accident
When and where should they see the doctor
Call Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys Today!
As explained above, handling negotiations to obtain fair compensation for an accident is quite difficult. However, victims have greater chances of winning their cases when they work with a seasoned personal injury attorney.
If they receive guidance from a personal injury lawyer and can build a solid case, claimants will have the negotiating power and will likely get the maximum settlement.
At Schuerger Shunnarah Trial Attorneys, we understand that these cases are complex but we are willing to create a solid attorney-client relationship and guide victims through the negotiation process to help them recover the compensation they deserve. Contact us today and get a free consultation!