Writing a demand letter is part of the whole process of filing a personal injury or liability claim regardless how small or how serious. This letter normally signifies the start of the claim and should contain very important information, which among others, include the compensation being sought for as a result of injuries and damages incurred.
The help of a personal injury (PI) attorney is vital in composing a thorough and accurate demand letter.
What is the Significance of a Demand Letter?
While drafting the letter seemed simple enough, it is the content that must be determined appropriately. Computing for the compensation to be demanded involves not only actual expenses but even non-economic ones.
It is necessary that a thorough consideration of the property damage, the injury and the effects of the injury in your life will be valued. This is the reason an experienced PI attorney must be consulted prior to finalizing the demand letter.
Your attorney would also know the necessary supporting documents that should be attached to the letter.
Statutes of limitations are important in filing PI claims since you may lose your chance of being compensated for your injuries. However, having gone through an accident, it may prove to be a difficult task.
A PI attorney will be a huge relief on your part in preparing demand letters. Having an attorney to help you will render the letter professional in form and structure.
He also knows what to include such as the following:
- Injuries sustained and its extent
- Medications and treatments acquired
- Lost wages due to the accident/injury
- Pain and suffering
- Other future medical expense and future lost income
- Other related expenses as an impact of the accident
Everything declared in the letter should be duly supported by documentation. Your attorney will know what needs to be attached. He would also know what to declare, including the denial of fault. However, the most important part of the letter is the amount to be demanded.
Accurately Estimate Damages with Your PI Attorney’s Help
An auto accident may change the lives of those involved. Receiving compensation for the injuries incurred can prove a huge relief. This is why it is important to make an adequate computation of the value that will closely equate to the damages sustained.
To determine what you would include as damages, it is necessary to examine compensatory and punitary damages. Your PI attorney can determine this for you. Some compensatory damages that are easier to compute, such as the following:
- Future and present medical treatments
- Lost wages
- Damaged property, which may be reimbursed after repair or replacement
However, there are compensatory damages that are harder to value, and the attorney’s role becomes even more important in these cases. Such types of damages include the following:
- Emotional distress, which may include anxiety, trauma, fear, insomnia and other psychological effects;
- Loss of consortium, which are the adverse impact of injuries on marriage or family life;
- Loss of enjoyment, such as exercises and hobbies that may no longer be practiced due to injuries; and,
- Pain and suffering, which include mental and physical suffering such as humiliation, anger or depression.
Calculating these types of damages, as well as convincing the other party and his insurer about the amount calculated, is best done by a personal injury attorney.
In cases where the accident that caused the injuries transpired due to the other party’s carelessness or recklessness, punitive damages may be awarded by the court.
You can include this possibility in your demand letter and incorporate its potential value into the total compensation you will ask for. Your PI attorney can do this more accurately.
Calculate Pain and Suffering through Your PI Attorney
Pain and suffering are one of the mentioned types of compensatory damages that are difficult to calculate. This involves the stress you experience as a result of the injuries sustained from the accident.
Despite of its vague nature, the law allows compensation for this type of damage besides medical expenses or lost wages.
It is important to note however, that an insurance company will not grant compensation for pain and suffering if you did not seek any medical treatment for injuries.
The strongest support to prove pain and suffering are the medical treatments, care and attention received which should be properly documented.
While no set rules exist on how to calculate pain and suffering, your PI attorney will be able to help you determine this accurately. Some of the most common ways insurer use to assign value to pain and suffering are as follows:
- Per diem method, where a formula is used and computed on a daily basis of suffering;
- Multiplier method, where the total medical expense is multiplied by 1 to 5 depending on the severity of the injury; and,
- Simple estimate of a general cost, which may be negotiated by the parties involved.
Since pain and suffering can be considered a medical issue, the supporting evidence you need to attach to your demand letter are all the medical documents you have relating to the injuries sustained from the accident, along with other documents about your crash to include that an attorney can put together for you.
The PI Attorney’s Role should Not Stop with Just the Demand Letter
While it is a wise move to acquire the help of a PI attorney in writing a demand letter, following through with the rest of the claim without the help of an attorney is a bad idea. First off, insurance companies are aware of such arrangements and may exploit the situation and trick you into agreeing to an unfair settlement amount.
Also, the attorney is able to professionally negotiate with the other party and the insurer as regards the compensation. He can convince that the amount being asked is fair. Your PI attorney is your best investment in obtaining the compensation you deserve.