If you are injured or have been caused some sort of harm that has resulted in requiring medical treatment, you may decide that you want to file a claim with an insurance company to pay for your damages. To do so, you need to write and send them a demand letter. This letter will be used as a point of reference during negotiations for liability and compensation.
What is a Demand Letter?
A demand letter is the central document in negotiating a car accident settlement. It explains:
- what happened, including when the accident occurred and where,
- how and why the other driver was at fault,
- the injuries you suffered,
- and what damages or compensation you believe you are due.
That letter, along with all the rest of your supporting documentation, makes your argument and gives you the basis for settlement negotiations. It must therefore be a strong document that contains many details, including:
- Specific dollar amounts for the medical bills, vehicle repairs, and other expenses you’ve incurred as a result of the accident.
- Lost wages from missing work and any other financial losses.
- Other damages, like pain and suffer or ways in which your injuries have affected your personal life.
A demand letter is an important document. A well-crafted letter provides the foundation for negotiating a fair personal injury settlement. It is strongly recommended that you contact an experienced personal injury attorney before writing your auto-accident demand letter. Their legal expertise can give you a significantly higher chance to receive the fairest personal injury settlement.
Leaving Room for Negotiations
This sample demand letter below details specific expenses. Be sure to attach copies of all bills and other supporting documentation to your own demand letter.
Notice that the total demand for damages is high in the sample below, even considering all of the medical, property damage, and lost wages mentioned. Shooting high with a demand letter is standard. It gives you the ability to negotiate down to an amount that is a fair settlement.
A Car Accident Sample Demand Letter*
The following sample demand letter provides guidance on the level of detail a demand letter must contain. It also indicates the categories of information that should appear in any formal demand letter.
[Your City, State, and Zip Code]
[Name of the Claims Adjuster]
[His or Her Job Title]
[Address of the Insurance Company]
[City, State, and Zip Code of the Insurance Company]
Re: Your Insured, [Name of the Defendant]
Claimant: [Your Full Legal Name]
Claim Number: [Assigned by the Insurance Company]
Date of Loss: [Date of the Car Accident]
Dear Mr./Ms. [Name of Claims Adjuster]
As I informed you via phone and letter on May 16, 2014, I was injured in a car accident with your insured, James Smith, on May 5, 2014, in Holtsville, Virginia. I was driving east on 52nd Street and entered the round-about at the intersection of 52nd Street and Meridian Road. I yielded before entering the round-about and allowed a yellow Mustang, driven by Mr. Mike Nikols to proceed before me, per the rules of the road. Your insured, James Smith, entered the round-about behind me, driving in excess of the speed limit, and rear ended my car.
The profound force of the impact causing my head and neck to snap forward and back three times, resulting in whiplash and long-term issues with migraine headaches due to a cracked disc. The impact also caused my seatbelt to lock up, causing two broken ribs on my lower right ribcage and severe bruising on my left shoulder, chest, and stomach.
Mike Nikols, the driver of the yellow Mustang, witnessed the entire incident and can attest to the fact that your insured, James Smith, failed to heed the speed limit and was driving erratically. Mr. Nikols formal statement is enclosed.
I was transported to the emergency room of County Hospital, at 502 North Meridian Street, Holtsville, Virginia, by ambulance immediately after the accident. The treating physician, Dr. Michaelson ordered [insert name of all tests] which showed I had a cracked disc in my neck. I was admitted to the hospital for observation, due to the neck injury and received [insert list of medications]. I was released the next day, May 6, 2014, at 2:00 p.m. Dr. Michaelson prescribed [insert list of medication] for the pain and I had to wear a neck brace and restrict my movements for six weeks while my injuries healed.
At the expiration of the six weeks, I began attending physical therapy at the Pain Management Clinic at 2103 North Meridian Street twice a week, as prescribed by my family practitioner, Dr. David Owens. These physical therapy sessions are ongoing and I am on restricted duty at work until at least October of 2014. Additionally, during the initial six weeks of recovery I was off work and received only a fraction of my standard weekly pay during this period of family medical leave.
While I was recovering from my injuries, I lost out on an incredible opportunity to couch my son’s little league team. The opportunity for this bonding experience will never present itself in the same way again, even if I am able to coach at some time in the future. This was his first season in little league and the invitation for me to coach was an incredible honor.
The expenses for my medical care, documented by the enclosed bills, are:
County Hospital’s Emergency Room: $924.00
Dr. Tina Reid, ER Doctor: $523.00
CAT Scan, X-Rays, Labwork: $2,322.00
County Hospital, Outpatient Stay: $7,610.42
Prescription Medications: $435.00
Dr. David Owens: $325.00
Physical Therapy to date: $3,000.00
During my six weeks of and short-term disability and family medical leave from work, I lost [insert dollar figure] in wages, as documented in the letter enclosed from the Personnel Department of my employer Backen, Statem, and Tomas.
Physical therapy is still required and moving forward I will be attending sessions at the Pain Management Clinic once a week. Each appointment costs $125.00, for a total projected cost of $1,250.00 for another 10 weeks of therapy.
Damage done to my vehicle in the accident on May 5, 2014 resulted in repair expenses in excess of $4,000.00. Invoices for repair work are attached here.
The negligence of your insured, James Smith, caused me severe pain and discomfort and limited mobility that has lasted more than three months and will continue to plague me for the foreseeable future. Ongoing struggles with depression and loss of sleep due to my injuries have stolen invaluable time from my personal life, my family, and my hobbies as well. The loss of the opportunity to couch my son’s first season of little league is a chance I will never get back.
As a result of the cumulative financial and personal losses your insured caused with his illegal and irresponsible actions, I demand compensation for my injuries, lost wages, and general damages in the amount of $52,000.00
I anticipate receiving your reply no longer than 30 days from the date of this letter.
[Your Name – printed]
*Getting Help with a Personal Injury Claim
The demand letter is a very important document and must be well constructed in order for settlement negotiations to be favorable. The sample provided here is only to illustrate methods and general structure. To compose a letter of your own, you may need assistance from an attorney. He or she can ensure your letter presents a strong argument and gives you the basis for successfully negotiation a fair settlement for your injuries.