A personal injury demand letter summarizes the history of your personal injury claim for the insurance adjuster. It begins at the point of impact and ends with your last day of treatment. It guides the adjuster through all you’ve lost as a result of the insured’s negligence.
A well-written demand letter can effectively limit the adjuster’s options for objecting to the amount of your settlement demand.
There are key elements to any effective demand letter that must be listed and defined. Each element provides separate but vital support to your claim. Elements of a powerful personal injury demand letter include:
- Summary of the facts surrounding the collision
- Confirmation of the insured’s liability to the exclusion of yours
- Detailed list of injuries and medical expenses
- List of out-of-pocket expenses
- Confirmation of lost wages
- Statement of your ongoing pain and suffering and emotional distress
- Your supporting documents
- Your settlement demand amount
“For Settlement Purposes Only”
The personal injury demand letter should begin with the words: For Settlement Purposes Only. This statement is used by attorneys and tells the claims adjuster the letter cannot be used as evidence at any upcoming trial.
Imagine you and the claims adjuster had been negotiating your initial demand of $25,000. After extensive negotiations, you agreed to lower your demand to $10,000. The adjuster refused and negotiations broke down, so you filed a lawsuit. Your lawsuit asked for $25,000.
If settlement discussions were admissible at trial, the insurance company’s attorneys could ask you under oath if you told the adjuster you would settle for $10,000. You’d have to say “Yes”. As soon as the jury hears that you previously agreed to settle for $10,000, the chances of them making an award over that amount would be all but gone.
Components of the Demand Letter
The personal injury demand letter should be professional in appearance and content. Proper punctuation and spelling is imperative. Tabs are helpful to separate each supporting document, which can be referred to as exhibits. For instance, Exhibit A could be the police report; Exhibit B witness statements; Exhibit C medical bills.
Include the following information in this order:
- Your name, address and contact information should be clearly displayed at the top of the letter.
- The name of the insurance company, the adjuster’s name and title, the insurance company street address, city, state, and ZIP code. (Wherever possible don’t use abbreviations. Although E. Downtown Ave. is the correct address, it is better to write East Downtown Avenue.)
- The correct date.
- The “For Settlement Purposes Only” statement.
- Re: (or Reference:) followed by the claim number and information. The reference is very important. Thousands of claims each day arrive at the insurance company. The mail clerks rely on the reference information to route your claim to the right department. Letters without reference numbers are often delayed in reaching the right person.
- The introduction section lets the adjuster know your treatment has concluded and you are now ready to begin in earnest settlement negotiations.
- The background section reviews the accident and removes any hint of your culpability.
- The injuries section sets out your specific injuries and the extensive treatment you required. Your description should relate the full extent of mental and physical pain you endured at the point of impact and through your entire course of treatment.
- The liability section leaves no doubt of the insured’s liability by referring to witness statements and the insured’s receipt of a traffic citation.
- The special and general damages sections list the compensation you expect for:
- Past and future medical and chiropractic expenses.
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost wages
- Past and future pain and suffering (emotional distress, mental anguish, loss of consortium)
- The close thanks the adjuster for his assistance and gives a time frame for a response.
Demand Letter Example
STEPHANIE J. SMITH
16567 East 15TH Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75200
Cell Phone (555) 790-0582
Home Phone (555) 624-5037
Ingersoll Insurance Liability Inc.
Alan Dormer – Senior Claims Adjuster
112678 Northlake Avenue, Suite 100
Havenwealth, New York 11700
May 22, 2012
FOR SETTLEMENT PURPOSES ONLY
Re: Claim No. F-1285K
Your Insured: Sid Vinto
Date of Loss 06.01.2011
Claimant: Stephanie J. Smith
Date of Birth: 12.21.82
Dear Mr. Dormer:
As you know, on or about June 6, 2011, I was severely injured when your insured, Sid Vinto, failed to stop at a red traffic signal and violently crashed into my car.
My doctors have advised me my condition has reached a level of optimal medical improvement. Although still suffering, I have decided to bring this matter to a conclusion. In an effort to amicably settle my claim I have prepared the following for your review. I have also attached supporting documentation.
Background: On or about June 6, 2011, at about 7:15 a.m., I was driving my 2007 Honda Accord northbound on Magnolia Street. At all times I was paying attention to the road, traffic signals, and other vehicles in my line of sight. I was also wearing my seatbelt.
As I approached the intersection of Magnolia Street and Orchid Avenue, I could see the traffic light was clearly green in my favor. As I passed through the light, suddenly and without warning, your insured violently collided with the front left quarter panel of my Honda. The severe force of the impact spun my car completely around. It only came to rest when it struck a telephone pole.
My injuries: The immediate force of the impact:
- Snapped my neck violently causing severe whiplash
- Fractured my left tibia
- Tore tendons in both wrists
- Herniated my disk at the C-4 level
- Lacerated my forehead and the skin above my left cheekbone
It took the Havenwealth Police Fire and Rescue over 15 minutes to respond to the scene. During that time I lay in my car bleeding profusely and in severe pain. When Fire and Rescue finally arrived, they treated me at the scene and transported me to the emergency room at Mailer General Hospital.
Subsequent to the collision and at the order of several treating physicians, I underwent several tests including (but not limited to) a Magnetic Resonance Imaging Examination (MRI), Computer Axial Tomography Examination (CAT Scan) and X-rays.
Since the day of the collision, I have endured months of painful treatment and therapy. I’ve incurred substantial out-of-pocket expenses, and because my physicians have prohibited me from working, I’ve also lost thousands of dollars in income. I worked at the Able Construction Company for 16 years. Due to my inability to work, my employer had to find a replacement. As a result I was fired.
My recovery period has been long and agonizing. I haven’t been able to sleep without pain for months. The pain medication I’ve had to take has resulted in depression and insomnia. The tension from not being able to provide income for my family has negatively impacted my marriage and relationship with my children.
Your Insured’s Liability: Your insured’s exclusive liability is clear. From the police report and witness statements, your insured failed to stop at the red traffic light on Orchid Street. Witnesses said he was texting on his cell phone, and when questioned by the police your insured admitted he was.
The police officers issued your insured a traffic citation for failing to stop at a red light. Your insured’s actions were the direct and proximate cause of the collision and my resulting injuries.
As a result of the violent collision I have incurred the following:
Thank you for your review of my personal injury demand letter together with its attached supporting documentation. I would appreciate your response within the next thirty (30) days.
Stephanie J. Smith