How to Write an Effective Demand Letter
By Chris Dixon
Writing a good demand letter is crucial to winning personal injury claims. Whether you’re in a car accident, suffered an injury at work, or lost a family member, writing an effective demand letter is key. Insurers will do one of three things when you make a claim:
- Accept your offer
- Submit a counteroffer
- Ignore your letter
The majority of the time, insurers will submit a counteroffer (i.e. a lower number). If this happens, it’s important to send back more information and justify why your offer is accurate and to ask how exactly they’ve come to that number. The first step, however, is writing the original demand letter.
Note that you shouldn’t write a demand letter until you are medically fit to do so. If your injury is serious, you may spend months in a hospital and any further expenses can be added on to your claim. Wait until your injuries are fully accounted for before sending in a letter. Or, if the injuries are minor, make sure you have all of your medical expenses and other financial documents in order.
How to Write a Demand Letter to an Insurance Company
To win an injury insurance claim, you’re going to have to provide evidence that supports a justifiable amount of compensation. Below, the Dixon Injury Firm provides an outline of what needs to be included in a demand letter:
- A complete history of the events leading up to, during, and after the events. You should accompany this statement with witness testimonies, photos, and other information to accurately describe what happened.
- You’re going to need to provide evidence that shows why the insurance company (and, by extension, their client) is liable for the accident. Read more about the 4 elements of negligence, duty of care, breach, causation, and damages.
- Include a full list of the personal injury compensation you’re claiming. Special damages, such as medical expenses, lost income, property damage, out-of-pocket expenses, and future damages should be separate from general damages. General damages include pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment, and other factors that can be multiplied into a much higher sum. Make sure you have evidence (receipts, medical bills, old pay stubs) available to back up your claim.
- If you spend any money (other than medical expenses and lost wages) that is tied to your injury, be sure to provide proof. This can include child care services, transportation costs, and other expenses.
- Carefully describe your job situation. If you’ve lost income, be sure to factor in vacation days, missed opportunities for promotion, sick time, and any other financial hardships you have due to the accident.
- To clarify your general damages, be sure to provide documentation that outlines your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment or consortium. If you lost a child or spouse, these need to be considered in the total. Losing a limb, for example, impacts the rest of your life.
- Include supporting evidence from employers, doctors, and witnesses that backs up every one of the items you’re claiming damages for. As we’ve mentioned several times, document everything.
- Finally, be sure to tally up the general and special damages. The amount you want to settle for should be clear and specific.
How to Structure a Demand Letter
Format and style are both important. You want to be precise and professional. The general flow of a demand letter should follow these guidelines:
- Contact information
- Disclaimer stating this is a letter for settlment purposes only
- A brief description of the accident
- Detailed background of the accident
- Why the insured is liable
- Summary of your injuries
- A detailed report of any surgeries or medical help you received
- A list of damages (expenses, pain and suffering, etc.) you incurred
- The final amount you are demanding for your personal injury
- A closing statement that states you expect a response within three weeks
- A list of any attached documents
Writing a demand letter can be difficult, and may be better for injury victims to contact a personal injury attorney for help. We do want to reiterate that adding a disclaimer to the letter is very important because, if the letter is a request for a settlement, it may not be used in trial if the claim escalates to a lawsuit. Feel free to reach out to the Dixon Injury Firm today for a free consultation or more information about writing demand letters.