If you've been hurt in a wreck that was not your fault, you might hear about something called a demand letter. This letter can have a powerful effect on your ability to settle an accident case, but the letter must include the right information. While it will be your personal injury lawyer's job to create and send the demand letter, all accident victims should be involved in their cases and understand the process. Doing so means you can contribute vital information to the case that might increase your level of compensation. Read on and find out more about what should and what should not be in a demand letter.
Demand Letters Get the Negotiations Started
The main point of a demand letter is to let the other side know that you intend to seek compensation beyond what the insurer is offering. Most at-fault drivers have insurance policies that will cover certain damages, but they often fall short of addressing all needs. Never accept a settlement offer from the insurer without speaking to a personal injury lawyer first.
What Should Be in a Demand Letter?
You want to provide the other side with just enough information to make them sit up and take notice. That means including the following:
- Assertions that the other driver was at fault for the accident and why this is so.
- A list of evidence gathered, thus far. This list should be general in nature.
- A summary of medical treatments so far and the cost of those treatments.
- A list of other damages, including lost wages, pain and suffering, lost personal property, and so on.
- Finally, the total dollar amount you are demanding to be paid at this time to avoid taking the case to court. (The implication is that the other side might owe even more if the case goes to court.)
What Should Not Be in a Demand Letter?
- Any mention that you could be partially at fault. If this is the case, leave that issue for the negotiation phase that comes after the letter is sent.
- Any mention of previous accidents, medical conditions, pre-existing conditions, etc.
- Emotional appeals. State the facts and only the facts.
- The personal contact information of any eye-witnesses in your case.
- Photographs of your injuries, the scene, etc. Those can come later.
The above should serve as a primer on what your lawyer is up to after you hire them. Speak to your personal injury attorney to find out more about your chances for compensation after an accident.