A personal injury demand letter notifies a party that you are seeking damages in relation to an injury and starts the process of negotiation a potential settlement. A demand letter that’s well constructed and presents your damages and case in a professional manner can set the stage for a quick settlement process, but a poorly thought-out or laid-out demand letter to an insurance company for a personal injury may actually harm your case. Let’s look at how each part of a demand letter should be constructed, and how a sample personal injury demand letter may look.
When To Use A Personal Injury Demand Letter
A demand letter is used when you are asking for a settlement in regard to a personal injury. In Pennsylvania, the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years, so you will want to file the letter with sufficient time remaining in that statute that a lawsuit may be filed if the other party fails to agree to a settlement. The personal injury demand letter serves as a notification of what you are willing to accept to settle your claim.
It’s important to understand that this letter is a signed statement about the accident you were involved in. You should keep it factual and truthful, but if poorly worded or not thought out, it could end up hurting a potential personal injury case. You should always speak to an experienced personal injury attorney before sending a personal injury demand letter to make sure you aren’t giving up your rights you may need to exercise.
Parts Of A Settlement Demand Letter
When constructing a demand letter, the layout is important but so too are grammar, spelling, and attention to detail. Make sure that all parties mentioned in the letter have their personal or business names correctly spelled and that the document in professional-looking and error-free.
It’s also good to use approximations when discussing events to account for generalities, slight measurement differences, and the tricks that your mind can play on you during times of stress. For example, while a car wreck may have occurred at noon exactly by your vehicle’s clock, another vehicle or security camera may say 12:02, leading to potential inaccuracies the defendant’s lawyer could exploit. Use phrases like “about”, “on or around”, or just “approximately” when needed to allow for a factual account with some leeway for discrepancies.
Demand Letter Heading
The heading of your demand letter should explain the relationships between involved parties and their identities. It should include your name, address, and a date for the letter. If sending to an insurance company, you would include their name, address, and a line directing the personal injury demand letter to the attention of an adjustor by name and title if one has been assigned to your claim. Next will be the name and address of the at-fault party, including their policy number and any claim number if the letter is going to their insurance carrier. End your heading by stating the date and type of injury and plainly that this letter is being issued only for settlement purposes so that, if you are forced to sue, it cannot be used to “cap” your compensation.
The Introduction, Accident, And Injury
A simple introductory preface followed by a brief description of the accident and injury should open your letter. This should include a broad outline of the accident’s location, time, and the parties involved. You’ll follow this paragraph with a short description of the damages. This opening section sets the groundwork for the details to follow.
Basis For Damages
The lengthiest section of your letter will layout your claim in detail. Start by providing background context, then descriptively walk the reader through the accident. Afterward, you will need to detail the injuries and/or property damage you’ve suffered as well as the actions you’ve taken to repair those damages and return to your previous lifestyle. Finally, you should state your reasoning for why the defendant was directly responsible for causing these injuries to you. Keep this information descriptive but factual, as you will need to attach documentation to your personal injury demand letter to back up your statements.
Now that you’ve provided the description of the accident and its aftermath, it’s time to make your demand for compensation. Start by listing the specific and documented damages first. This can be the cost of repairs to your property, medical care for yourself, and lost wages from your recovery time. Next, you’ll ask for general damages, such as pain and suffering or emotional distress, restating your justification for the amounts you’ve asked for.
Signed, Sealed, Delivered
Lastly, close out your personal injury demand letter with a final restating of your case distilled down to a single sentence and a timeline before ending it professionally but cordially. Advise them documentation is attached, sign your settlement demand letter in black or blue ink, and make two copies.
Mail one copy to the insurance company (or defendant if no insurance company is involved) via the United States Postal Service’s certified mail, return receipt requested service. This ensures tracking and provides not only proof of mailing but also proof of delivery. When you receive the delivery receipt, attach it to one copy and keep it for your records. The third copy will be your “working copy” to use when speaking with an adjuster, negotiating a settlement, or to take notes on as needed.
A Sample Personal Injury Demand Letter
4321 S. Main St.
Philadelphia, PA 19127
August 1, 2020
Auto Insurance Company
Harrisburg, PA 17111
Attn: Elizabeth Martin, Claims Adjuster
1734 Independence Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19126
Claim Number: 872364
Re: Auto Collision July 23, 2019
This letter is for settlement purposes only.
To Elizabeth Martin:
On July 23rd, 2019, I was injured in an auto accident with your insured policyholder, Brad Jones, failed to yield the right of way at a stop sign, crashing into my car and leaving me injured. Were it not for his unsafe actions behind the wheel, neither my property nor myself would have been harmed. This car wreck has led to considerable personal expense in the form of repair costs for my vehicle, medical care, missed wages, and pain and suffering that has degraded my lifestyle. I have reached the point where further medical improvement is unlikely, and I would like to conclude the matter of the damages done by your insured with an equitable settlement that compensates me for both the special and general damages I have suffered.
On July 23rd, 2019, as I was driving to work at or about 9:00 AM, I approached the intersection of 2nd Street and A Avenue in my 2017 Kia Soul, obeying all traffic laws, maintaining a speed well within the legal limits. Visibility was clear, and I was properly watching my surroundings for traffic signals, signs, other drivers, and pedestrians. I saw the insured, Brad Jones, stop his vehicle at the intersection’s stop sign, before unexpectedly pulling into the intersection and striking the passenger side of my vehicle. There was no signage affecting my right of way and there was no obstruction that would have prevented the insured from seeing my vehicle or the stop sign directing him to stop and yield the right of way.
On impact, I was slammed violently against the driver’s door of my car, causing an immediate sharp pain. The airbags deployed, violently striking my face and causing my eyeglasses to lacerate the bridge of my nose and cheek. An ambulance was called, during which I was administered oxygen as I was taken to the nearest emergency room. There I was treated for bruised ribs, a broken nose, a concussion, and facial lacerations.
My vehicle was towed from the scene and delivered to a local repair shop, Johnson Auto Body. The passenger side was extensively damaged. In addition, mechanical work was required to return the vehicle to an operable condition.
Follow-up medical examinations were required to monitor my traumatic brain injury. Due to the risk associated with any brain injury, such as a concussion, as well as the dangerous nature of my job as an equipment operator, my doctors and employer advised me not to return to work until I was symptom-free, which left me unable to work and earn wages for 11 days. While cleared to return to work, I find I am unable to drive my vehicle without severe anxiety since the wreck, necessitating further intervention to address the emotional distress caused by your insureds careless and unexpected driving.
Witness statements, police reports, and the citation issued at the time of the accident to the insured paint a clear picture of this accident. This wreck is the sole liability of the insured. His failure to properly yield the right of way at a stop sign in accordance with Pennsylvania law was the direct cause of the accident and the following damages:
[List of Itemized Damages — Start with specific economic damages, such as repair and medical bills, lost wages, and pharmacy receipts. Then move on to general damages for pain, suffering, and emotional distress. ]
Please find attached the documentation to support these damages.
I believe this compensation would be a fair and just settlement to conclude this case at this point and time for both parties. Please respond within fifteen (15) business days to this letter. Thank you for your prompt attention.
Get The Compensation You Deserve
A demand letter to an insurance company for a personal injury may not end your claim. The adjuster may decide to negotiate for a smaller amount or outright refuse. That doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. A personal injury attorney can help you pursue your claim for fair compensation, going as far as representing you in court if necessary. Contact Anapol Weiss for a free consultation today, and let us fight for you.