What is a Demand Letter and Can I Do it Myself?
Originally published April 11, 2022. Updated July 19, 2023.
After an accident that injures you, you can send a demand letter to the at-fault party’s insurance company or directly to the individual responsible requesting compensation for your injuries. The purpose of a demand letter is to attempt a resolution for compensation without resorting to formal legal action through the courts.
While you can write your own demand letter, an Appleton personal injury lawyer can also draft one on your behalf. When you contact the team at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers, we can craft your demand letter so that you present the facts, request a fair demand, and ensure the other party knows you are willing to go to court if necessary.
How a Demand Letter Starts a Lawsuit
The demand letter establishes the facts and purpose of the claim. It details the injuries and losses you suffered, how the other party caused your injuries and losses, and how much compensation you are demanding in return.
If you aren’t offered a settlement amount following the demand letter, your next step may be to file a case in small claims court if your injuries and losses are minor. Small claims court is often a faster and more cost-effective way to resolve an issue than civil court.
However, Wisconsin’s small claims court only hears personal injury claims and tort cases worth $5,000 or less. Any claim for more than this must be filed in civil court.
What Should Your Demand Letter Include?
Your demand letter should include your name, address, and the date you sent it. If you plan to send a demand letter to the insurance company, include the company’s name, address, and indicate which of their clients was responsible for your injuries.
The body of the demand letter should include the following important elements:
1. An introduction
In the introduction section of the letter, open with who you are, who the letter is addressed to, and your reasons for writing the letter. You can go over the events that led to the accident and your resulting injuries.
Make it clear in the introduction that you’re prepared to file a lawsuit to recover the damage you’re owed, but you are sending this demand letter as a courtesy to avoid taking this action if possible. You can explain that settling without going to court can save both parties money and be mutually beneficial.
2. Extent of damages
In the next section, the letter should describe the extent of the damages you suffered in the accident (your losses). It should include all your economic damages, such as medical costs, lost wages from missed work, and property damage (such as vehicle repairs).
You can prove your economic damages with your prescription receipts, wage verification letters, and invoices from your healthcare providers. A detailed demand letter must list each injury and the associated medical expenses.
With the help of an attorney, you can also estimate the non-economic damages you’re owed for your injuries. These damages include pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, and emotional or mental distress.
A lawyer can help you calculate various factors and determine what these damages are worth, such as your inability to enjoy activities you previously engaged in or new difficulty caring for your children.
3. Proof of liability
It is important to prove the other party’s liability for your injuries as part of your suit. This section of the letter should include evidence to support your claim. If you allege that the other party was negligent, you could present evidence against them with witness statements, police reports, and medical records showing the extent of your injuries and required treatments.
4. Demands for compensation
You should state your demands in the letter’s last paragraph, including the amount of monetary compensation you expect to receive and by which date. Make reasonable demands for the extent of the damages incurred; the goal is to get the recipient of the letter to agree to these terms so you can avoid further legal proceedings.
However, the letter must also explain that you are fully prepared to proceed with a lawsuit if your demands are not met.
Hire a Lawyer to Help with Your Demand Letter
Although it’s possible to write a demand letter yourself, it doesn’t put you in the ideal position to negotiate with the at-fault party. Hiring a lawyer demonstrates that you are serious about recovering compensation and won’t cut corners in the process.
You can rely on your attorney’s years of experience and legal knowledge to draft a strong demand letter that elicits the desired response.
You can have your attorney deliver the letter to the appropriate party and oversee settlement negotiations. Your lawyer may suggest filing a lawsuit if the other party, such as the insurance company, denies liability or refuses to comply with your demands.
Our Appleton Personal Injury Lawyers are Ready to Write
A good first impression counts for a lot, even if you’re introducing yourself and making your case to your potential adversaries in the court system. Therefore, a good demand letter is a crucial opening step to getting you the compensation you deserve.
The personal injury attorneys at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers have the experience and skills to help you prepare your demand letter. If you need legal guidance on proceeding with your letter or your claim, call us today for a free case evaluation.