If you’re ever in a car accident, and especially if you’re injured because of someone else’s actions, you may decide to negotiate a claim on your own. Negotiating your own claim isn’t typically the best idea—it’s advisable to hire a personal injury attorney. However, there are some cases where it might make sense.
For example, if your injuries are relatively minor, you may decide to negotiate your claim.
One of the first steps of beginning the process is writing a demand letter. Below, we’ll go into what a demand letter is and how you can write one for the first time.
What Is a Demand Letter?
The demand letter is often considered one of the most critical steps taking place after you’re involved in a car accident. With a demand letter, when you’re an injured claimant, this is your opportunity to outline what happened in the accident. Your demand letter will talk about the medical treatment you received, and it’s the initial step to begin injury settlement negotiations.
When you create a well-done demand letter, then it’s more likely to set the stage for productive negotiations for your injury claim.
You send the letter after a car accident once you’ve opened a claim. The demand letter should be done once you’ve opened a claim with the car insurance company of the other driver. You should also wait until you’ve been released from the care of your doctor for your injuries.
This is known as reaching the point of maximum healing.
You must wait until this time to accurately estimate your damages.
Then, you can begin to gather the information you’re going to need to create a demand letter.
Some of the things you may need to obtain before writing your letter to the insurance carrier includes the police report, witness statements, medical bills and records, information about your lost wages, and any notes you might have made as you recovered from your injuries.
Your goal should be coherency and a strong argument about why you’re entitled to a particular settlement.
Relaying the Facts
As you draft a demand letter, you’ll need to outline the particular circumstances surrounding your accident. You’re providing the insurance company with your version of what happened. This also gives the insurance company an idea of what your testimony might look like if your case were to end up in a trial.
Go step-by-step as far as the exact events that happened leading up to and also during your accident. You want to be sequential so that whoever is reading your letter can follow along with the events.
Some things to think about include where you were at, the direction you were going, the direction the other driver was going, and weather conditions at the time.
If you have witness statements or a police report, you should include details from these as well.
Ultimately what you’re doing here is establishing fault for the accident. You’re attempting to show the other driver was at fault, and it was their negligence that led to your accident.
Some police reports will include a citation against the other driver, which is especially helpful in determining fault.
In your demand letter, along with talking about what happened during the accident, you’ll also go into details about your injuries. You’ll discuss the injuries you sustained and the subsequent medical treatment you received. You should expressly state whether or not you received emergency care from paramedics at the scene of the accident.
You’re going to discuss all of the medical care and treatments you got from the scene of the accident through to your final active treatment. If you’re able to use appropriate medical terminology, that’s best.
Include treatment providers’ names, the facilities where you went, your visit dates, and what happened during each of those visits.
Include the total amount of money charged by each provider when you’re detailing your injuries and treatment.
Include with your demand letter an itemized list of medical bills. Even if your health insurance provider covers your medical bills, you should still cover the total amount of the bill itself.
Depending on your injuries and treatment, you may be entitled to recover lost wages that occurred because of your accident.
If this is applicable in your situation, you’ll include how much time you missed from work and your income. Your employer can provide you with this information, so you have verification.
If you’re self-employed, you can also come up with a calculation.
If you have any other losses or impacts from the accident, include those in a demand letter. No matter what it is, if there’s a loss, include it.
For example, maybe you missed an important family event due to your accident and injuries. Detail that if so.
Making a Financial Demand
Finally, once you’ve made clear all of the circumstances and facts surrounding your accident, and you’ve detailed your lost wages, medical treatment, and expenses, you should include a specific financial demand. This is a combination of all of your combined losses. Your demand will likely be quite a bit higher than what you’re able to recover, so keep that in mind.
You want to make it high so that it gives you room for negotiation.
Again, you want to attach supporting documents and proof, and evidence with a demand letter.
You should keep originals of anything you submit for your own records.
Overall, before you write or submit anything, you want to sit down and organize all of your expenses. You want to gather your records and establish the facts. Make notes to yourself if you need to because this will help you structure your letter more logically.
Feel free to share your perspective, but keep things concise and factual at the same time.
Writing these letters isn’t easy, even with preparation, which is why most people hire an attorney. If you are going to attempt it, make sure you follow the above steps.