Imagine you’re walking around downtown at night. You step into the crosswalk to cross the street when a car comes around the corner at a fast speed. Before you have time to react, you are being hit by the car. You incur some injuries and decide to sue the driver for damages. The first thing your personal injury lawyer tells you is to write a demand letter. In this post, we’ll discuss what a demand letter is, what it should contain, and why it is important.
What is a demand letter?
A demand letter is a document written by the injured person stating the reason for their claim. It’s the “why are we here” document and it’s the basis of all negotiations. This demand letter clearly lays out everything that happened during and after the accident that led them to sue for damages. This is where you (and your attorney) write out your strongest arguments that you plan on bringing to the insurance company.
What should you include in your demand letter?
A demand letter should be persuasive. Even though in a pedestrian accident case the pedestrian has a pretty strong claim, this demand letter still plays an important role. Here are some key things you want to include in your letter:
- Date of injury
- Insurer’s file number (so your claim can be easily identified)
- Attach all of your medical records.
- Attach all of your medical bills.
- A detailed account of what happened the night of the accident. (You’ll want to make sure to list all the facts and then end with a statement saying “This is why he/she is liable.” This is especially important if the driver had made any previous statements saying that they were liable or being negligent – stating it was “their fault”.)
- Describe the extent of your injuries. How long were you in a cast? Did you need physical therapy? How is your quality of life? How severe was the pain?
- Give a clear summary of all your medical expenses. Even though you’re attaching your bills, it will make it easier for everyone if they are summarized and clearly stated in the body of the letter.
- State how much work or income you lost and include that in your total damages cost.
- State your demand. Be very specific in the amount you are seeking.
Overall, the more specific you can be, the better. And the easier you can make it for the court, the better. Make sure that everything you write is clearly stated. Don’t beat around the bush. You are in court for a reason, so make your reasoning clear and your argument persuasive.
Why is a demand letter important?
The demand letter is the foundation of your personal injury case. It contains all the details of the accident so that everyone reading it knows exactly what happened, why you are suing for damages, and how much you are requesting. Because this document is so important, it may be worth sitting down with a personal injury lawyer to make sure you’ve included everything and that it is persuasively well written.