Writing an effective demand letter is both an art and a science. We want to help you learn to do it well. But maybe we’re getting ahead of ourselves here, so let’s back up and talk about what a demand letter is. For personal injury or worker’s comp cases, the injured party typically needs to write a demand letter to present the grievance and initiate compensation. A demand letter is a letter sent to a court, insurance company, or other relevant parties that provides:
- a clear account of the incident in question
- a record/evidence of the costs you’ve incurred
- the settlement amount you’re requesting
- a timeframe for response
An effective demand letter does far more than just provide facts and frameworks for your case, though: it sets the tone and establishes your credibility and determination to be heard. Often, an effective case letter can catalyze a settlement outside of court and save you time, headache, and money. Because a demand letter is such a critical part of launching a successful case, we always recommend talking to an attorney about the details that should be included in your letter. That being said, we’ll offer you some general guidelines for demand letters that will prepare you for drafting this important piece of communication.
Tell the facts of your story.
Provide information about your experience as clearly and honestly as you can. Be professional: don’t attack or antagonize the other side. This is the place for you to present your side of the story, however, so you have the freedom to express your perspective openly.
Medical records, repair invoices, photos, etc.: these will provide the basis for your settlement request. A legal professional can help you identify what will position your case most effectively and advise you on organization and presentation.
Make your request.
Be clear about the amount you are requesting. The amount should be substantiated by the documentation you provided, but it’s also likely that there will be some negotiation. Once again, an attorney can make recommendations on a reasonable claim request that will cover your costs even if you have to negotiate for less than your original claim amount.
Set a deadline and communicate the next steps.
Provide a response deadline, typically within 30-45 days: include the actual calendar date. Detail what your next action steps will be if you do not hear from them by the given deadline. This tells them you are serious about your claim and will continue following up.
Keep your letter as concise as possible, while still including the relevant details. Insurance agents and court clerks are busy, and they tend to respond favorably to brief, clear, accessible communication. Since many offices keep digital records now, it’s acceptable to email your demand letter. You may also wish to mail a copy of the letter and any accompanying documentation to the parties involved as well. At Castan & Lecca we are always standing by to support and accompany you on your journey.