You will write your settlement demand letter after you’ve completed your medical or chiropractic treatment, or when your treatment is about to end. The purpose of your letter is to summarize the facts and review the cause supporting your claim, and to demand an amount of compensation that fairly represents your injuries and damages.
In personal injury claims, “damages” can include your medical, therapeutic, and dental bills, your out-of-pocket expenses (for items such as medication, crutches, bandages, costs of transportation to treatment, etc.), lost wages, and your pain and suffering.
By the time you write your demand letter, you should already have copies of your medical bills and records, receipts for your out-of-pocket expenses, a letter from your employer verifying your lost wages, and any statements from witnesses.
Below is a sample demand letter for a dog attack claim. Use it as a guide when writing your own demand letter. Not all of the information in the sample letter will apply to your injury claim, so be sure to make changes accordingly.
Throughout the letter you’ll notice buttons. Click on them to get insider tips on constructing your letter, and to better understand why we use specific terms and phrasing.
You’ll notice that we never refer to the dog attack as an “accident.” The word accident implies your injuries weren’t really the dog owner’s fault, but rather a chance occurrence or aberration. You will also notice some repetition. This is done on purpose. Repetition avoids misinterpretation or speculation by the adjuster.
The adjuster working on your claim is likely to be working on over a hundred other claims at the same time. You want your letter to stand out from the crowd. Claims adjusters take professionally written demand letters more seriously.
While your letter won’t be written under an attorney’s letterhead, there’s no reason it can’t be just as effective. It may take several drafts and revisions before you’re finished. Also, it’s a good idea to have a close friend read the letter before you send it. Even the best writers have editors review their work before it’s published.
Dog Attack Sample Letter of Demand
July 14, 2014
Mr. Alex Smith
ABC Insurance Company
1010 Main Street
Phoenix, AZ 85016
FOR SETTLEMENT PURPOSES ONLY
This means that what you say in your settlement demand letter can’t be used against you in trial. You can freely discuss issues like comparative negligence, prior injuries, criminal background, and even the specific amount of money you’re demanding to settle your claim.
Titling your letter with the phrase “For Settlement Purposes Only” makes it clear you have a reasonable expectation that what you discuss in the letter won’t be used against you later.
Dear Mr. Smith:
As you are aware, on June 1, 2014, I was seriously injured when your insured’s dog violently attacked me. The attack wouldn’t have occurred but for the negligence of your insured, who wholly failed to properly restrain her dog. As a direct and proximate result of your insured’s negligence, I sustained injuries which required hospitalization and related costs.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
At approximately 7:00 a.m. on June 1, 2014, I was jogging northbound on Maple Street in Glendale, Arizona. I have been jogging along the same route for about two years. The route goes directly past your insured’s home at 156 Maple Street, Glendale, Arizona, 85267.
During the two months preceding the date of the ferocious attack, I was chased by your insured’s dog on three separate occasions. The dog is a German Shepard. At no time before to June 1st or on the date of the attack, did I ever taunt the dog or in any manner entice the dog to chase me.
I was terrified each time the dog chased me. On at least two occasions, the dog viciously lurched at me while showing its razor sharp teeth. Before the attack, on May 25th, I contacted your insured by stopping at her home. I explained that her dog continuously terrorized me and asked her to restrain the dog. Your insured apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again.
Statements made by the dog owner that tend to show regret or admit fault are considered “admissions against interest.” Admissions against interest are powerful tools because the adjuster knows if the claim doesn’t settle and ends up in trial, those admissions can be used against the insured.
On June 1st, as I was jogging past your insured’s home, suddenly and without warning your insured’s dog once against bolted from your insured’s property onto the sidewalk and bit hard into my left calf. The pain was excruciating. I felt pain and then nausea.
Fortunately, at about the time of the attack, a man whose name I later learned to be John Samuels of 158 Maple Street, Glendale, Arizona 85277, was walking out of his home. He ran over, chased the dog away, and came to my aid. It is my understanding that you took Mr. Samuel’s statement and it confirms my description of the events.
After being attacked, I was unable to walk. I fell to the curb as my blood continued to soak into my jogging suit.
Mr. Smith dialed 911. Several minutes later, the Glendale Fire and Rescue squad arrived. The paramedics put pressure on the wound and bandaged it. They explained the wound was deep enough to require transferring me to the emergency room to have the wound stitched. I was then transferred to the Glendale City Hospital Emergency Room.
While at the hospital, I was examined by Dr. Susan Atkins. Dr. Atkins indicated I would require ten stitches to close the wound. The stitching process was very painful. Once the stitching was complete, Dr. Atkins had the attending nurse provide crutches.
Dr. Atkins also prescribed Percocet for pain @ 10mg, #30, one every four hours, and a Z Pack Antibiotic to combat infection. Dr. Atkins said I would need to keep pressure off my left calf for two weeks and undergo physical therapy for an additional two weeks.
Dr. Atkins also stated I should not return to my job duties at the DBS Delivery company (located at 556 Elm Street, Glendale Arizona, 85125), until I completed my treatment. Returning any earlier, she stated, would not allow the wound to heal properly and likely exacerbate the injury. That would result in additional time to fully recover. Thus, I was unable to work during this time.
Moreover, because the injury was not job related, I received no income during this time in which I couldn’t perform my job duties.
My husband John Marcus arrived at the emergency room soon after I was admitted. After I was discharged, my husband drove me to our home. He then drove to City Pharmacy and picked up my prescriptions. The medications made me nauseous. Now, on top of the severe and acute pain from my injuries, I had to deal with nausea as well.
On June 14th, I began physical therapy at the We-Care Chiropractic Clinic located at 1787 Meadow Highway, Glendale, Arizona, 86578. My physical therapy was arduous, prolonged, and painful. On several occasions, I was so frustrated I broke down and cried. On July 1st, 2014, I was finally able to return to my job at the DBS Delivery Company.
INJURIES AND TREATMENT
I was initially treated at the scene of the attack by paramedics with the City Fire and Rescue Squad. After stabilizing me, they transferred me to the Emergency Room at City General Hospital. There I was treated by the attending emergency room physician Susan Atkins, M.D. Dr. Atkins diagnosed my injury as a three inch gash to my left calf. The gash was located within ten millimeters of the gastrocnemius muscle.
Ten stitches were required to close the wound. After the wound was closed, Dr. Atkins discharged me. Before doing so she instructed me to keep pressure off my left leg and calf for two weeks and to then seek physical therapy for another two weeks. Dr. Atkins prescribed Percocet for pain @ 10mg, #30, one every four hours, and a Z Pack Antibiotic to combat infection.
On June 14, 2014, I began physical therapy at the We-Care Physical Therapy Clinic located at 1785 Meadow Highway, Glendale, Arizona, 86578. There I received electric stimulation to the area surrounding the wound, massage therapy, and constructive exercise. My treatment at the We-Care Clinic ended on June 30, 2014. I returned to work on July 1, 2014.
Out-of-pocket expenses included $75.00 for City Hospital-issued crutches. Prescriptions for Percocet and Z-pack Antibiotic cost $125.00. Costs of transportation to and from treatment at the We-care Physical Therapy Clinic were calculated at 150 miles, times $.55 cents per mile, totaling $82.50. Parking costs at City Parking Garage totaled $100.00.
During my treatment and recovery, I was unable to perform my job duties at the DBS Delivery Company. Immediately before the dog attack I was making $14.00 per hour. At 40 hours per week times 4 weeks, my lost income totaled $2,240.00.
ATTACHED SUPPORTING EXHIBITS
- Glendale City Fire and Rescue Invoice
- Glendale City Hospital Emergency Room Admitting Chart
- Glendale City Hospital Invoice
- Medical Narrative of Susan Atkins M.D.
- We-Care Clinic Treatment Records
- We-Care Clinic Invoice
- Receipts from City Pharmacy
- Lost Wage Verification from DBS Delivery Company
- Witness Statement of Mr. John Samuels
ITEMIZATION OF DAMAGES
PAIN AND SUFFERING
This entire episode has been physically, emotionally, and psychologically devastating. Your insured’s refusal to properly restrain her dog changed my life forever. As a result of my injury and required treatment, I have suffered greatly. I’m now afraid to walk anywhere in public for fear of being attacked again.
Because I was unable to work during the time of my treatment and recovery, I had no income during that period. This caused me to suffer depression, anxiety, and guilt. Moreover, tension between my husband and I has developed. Before the attack, my husband and I enjoyed a healthy sex life. Because of pain from the injury, the medications I had to take, and the stress we both felt, we weren’t able to share our prior intimacy.
Before June 1, 2014 I was happy, healthy, and free of pain and discomfort. Now I’m afraid to walk in public without experiencing a palpable feeling of dread. Additionally, before June 1st, I had sustained no prior injuries to my left leg or calf, and had no preexisting condition that would have influenced or exacerbated my calf injury.
My intention is to settle this claim amicably. I would prefer not to retain an attorney, but unless you are prepared to settle this claim fairly, I will have no alternative but to immediately seek legal representation.
After reviewing settlement amounts and court verdicts based on fact scenarios similar to mine, I believe a fair and equitable settlement is $27,748.00.
In this example, the victim’s medical (including fire and rescue) and chiropractic bills amounted to $6,300.00, multiplied by 4x equals $25,200.00. When expenses and lost wages are added, the total demand comes to $27,748.00. While this is on the high side for an initial demand, it leaves ample room to negotiate.
1566 Indian Road
Phoenix, AZ 85017
Work phone: 555-676-7866
Cell phone: 555-675-8896
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