If you have been injured in any type of accident involving another’s negligence, you likely have an insurance adjuster who is working on your case. You expect the insurer to, at a minimum, reimburse you for your out-of-pocket expenses. You also expect to be compensated for your pain and suffering. In order to be sure you are compensated for all of your loss is to send the insurer a “Demand Letter.”

A Demand Letter Explained

A demand letter may sound intimidating, as though you are giving the insurer an ultimatum. However, the letter presents the facts of your case, the details of your expenses (including medical expenses, lost wages, property damage if applicable) and any emotional stress you may have suffered.

There are a few important parts to such a letter. Using the right format, and following this pattern, will help your adjuster, who is dealing with more than a hundred claims all at the same time, settle your case.

The Heading

This heading is important in that it provides the adjuster the information he or she needs in order to quickly access your file. It should include, on separate lines as shown:

  • Your name
  • Your address.
  • Your phone number.
  • The date.

Leave a space, and on the next lines include:

  • Name of the insurance adjuster.
  • Name of the insurance company.
  • Address of the insurance company.
  • Name of the insured person (this will be the one you claim was negligent and responsible for your injury.
  • The claim number the insurer has assigned to your claim.
  • Your name.
  • Your date of birth.

Before you begin the body of the letter, you should write:

FOR SETTLEMENT PURPOSES ONLY

This is for both you and the insurer. It keeps the insurer from thinking you are giving an ultimatum, and leaves it open for you to add damages later if something comes up after you write and mail the letter.

The Body

Summary of the facts. This should be a concise, but complete, statement of the facts. It is where you describe how the accident happened. Be absolutely truthful.  If you just think something happened, but are not sure, leave it out. Every word in the body of your document needs to be fact-based. If not, your settlement chances are jeopardized.

Statement of liability. Explain why their insured is liable for your damages. If possible, reference the police or other investigative reports and attach them to the letter as exhibits. Also include witness statements.

List of your injuries. Explain all the physical trauma you have suffered. Be specific about how severely you were injured, the treatments you have had to undergo, and any scars or long lasting residual effects that you expect to experience. Explain the course of any further treatment you expect to endure. Use medical terminology when you can. Be sure you can document everything you say.

Statement of your damages. Be very specific. There are two types of damages available: economic and non-economic.

Economic damages are those actual expenses that you have either paid or are expected to pay, such as medical expenses, including doctor visits and hospital stay, ambulance ride, cost of medications, cost of rehabilitation, and anything else related to your care. Include expected future damages if you expect to need ongoing or future medical care related to the injury. Wages or other earnings you lost because you were unable to work due to your injury are also economic damages.

Include receipts for your medical bills and a statement of lost wages from your employer. Attach them as exhibits to the letter.

Non-economic damages are losses due to your emotional stress and pain and suffering caused by the injury. Again, do not hold back, but also do not be melodramatic. Describe what your life was like before the accident and how it has negatively changed.

The Closing

List all the damages and the total. For example, say “In conclusion, here is a concise list of my damages to date:”

Economic damages                     $xxxx.xx

Noneconomic damage                $xxx.xx

Settlement demand                     $xxxx.xx

The settlement demand should be more than the total amount when all the damages are added together. You need to leave room for negotiation. Add a polite sentence, explaining that the amount you are asking for is consistent with jury verdicts and other insurance settlement awards you have seen in cases that have fact patterns similar to yours.

Close with a polite, “Sincerely,” then leave four spaces and type your name. Just above your typewritten name, sign the letter.

On the line after your typewritten name, write “Attachments.” Then list every document you have included to support your case. For example:

  • Police report.
  • Statement of witness John Doe
  • Statement of witness Jane Doe
  • Hospital bills from x memorial hospital

And so forth.

You really do not need to do this alone. Dealing with insurance companies can be daunting. If you are trying to collect from an insurer for damages you suffered in any type of accident, contact us at Siler & Ingber, LLP for help. We offer a free case review.