What is a Demand Letter?
The personal injury lawsuit process doesn’t always end in a trial or even start with the filing of a lawsuit. In many situations, personal injury cases start, and end, with a well-constructed demand letter. What is the demand letter and how does it work? Let’s take a closer look.
Demand Letters: Your Case in Brief
The demand letter is something you, usually through your attorney, send to the other side in a lawsuit. (In a personal injury case, attorneys typically send demand letters to the insurance company representing the defendant.) The letter is essentially your case presented in a succinct form. It gets into the details of your case, shows why you would win if the case went to trial, and asks for a settlement.
Demand Letters: The Facts
Demand letters typically begin with a statement of the facts. This statement is essentially a story that tells what happened during the accident. For example, in a car accident case, the statement of facts would detail who was involved, where the accident took place, as well as details from the police report or a copy of the report itself.
Demand Letters: The Injury
In personal injury cases, demand letters include extensive details about the injuries you sustained. Medical records, bills, statements from witnesses, or statements from experts can be included to show the extent of your injuries. The evidence shows the other side how much you’ve suffered, the kind of medical treatment you’ve received, as well as the impact the accident and your injuries will have on your life.
Demand Letters: Damages
The term “damages” means the financial or monetary losses you suffer as a result of the accident or the injuries you sustained. This includes any money you had to pay as a result of medical bills or treatments. For example, if you were hospitalized as a result of the accident, your damages would include all the medical bills associated with your hospitalization. Damages can also include money you spent on physical therapy, rehab, and other related expenses.
Demand Letters: Lost Wages
Being involved in an accident usually means you miss work. Not only that but also the extent of your injuries could force you to be unable to return to work in the future. All of these lost wages get included in the demand letter.
Demand Letters: The Demand
All of the pieces you include in your demand letter, all the medical details, the lost wages, and the statement of the facts, is designed to get the other side to settle the case without the necessity of having to go to trial. Your demand letter allows you to decide to show the other side the kind of evidence you have and, more importantly, the kind of evidence you can show at trial to prove your case.
So, the final piece of this presentation is the actual demand. The demand is a dollar amount, a summary of all of the harm you’ve suffered and how much the other side can pay you to settle your claim.
The demand in a well-constructed letter follows logically from the facts and the evidence presented in the previous portions of the demand letter. Experienced attorneys know this, and crafting a demand letter that produces results is as much of an art as it is a science.