So you want to send a demand letter to the responsible insurance company but you don’t know how. That’s ok. Here’s a secret!
You or someone you love has been in an accident of some sort and has suffered injuries. The accident was caused by the fault of someone else and you need and deserve to be fully and fairly compensated under the law. You have contact with the negligent person’s insurance company. Your injuries are healed, you’re back to work, and you want your case settled so you can get your life back on track. You’re ready to begin settlement negotiations with the responsible insurance company and you are thinking, “I need to draft the best Demand Letter EVER!”
So you want to send a demand letter to the responsible insurance company but you don’t know how. That’s ok. Here’s a secret that many of my fellow personal injury attorneys may not agree with – You don’t need to know how to write a demand letter.
Demand letters are usually not worth the paper they are written on. A thorough demand letter explaining liability, damages, this, that and the other thing serves no real purpose.
In regards to my thoughts on demand letters and how they are fairly worthless are thoughts I didn’t have early on in my career as a personal injury lawyer. I used to write super-thorough demand letters. I would start by describing how my client’s accident happened and why their client was completely at fault. I would title that section “Liability.”
In the section – “Liability” – I would go on and on about what happened, about why my client did not in any way contribute to causing the accident, about how I expected a jury would find in my client’s favor regarding liability… Talking about what a jury would do before a lawsuit was filed? Beginner mistake.
I would title the next section of my letter – “Damages”. I’d essentially give a play by play of all of the medical treatment my client had in very specific detail. I’d go into detail about various doctor appointments, procedures performed, therapy sessions and medicine taken. I’d discuss the physical pain my client experienced, his emotional suffering, the things he could no longer do as a result of the accident (whether temporarily or permanently). If there was scarring or disfigurement, you bet I’d discuss it. I’d discuss my client’s job and how much work he missed as a result of an accident.
I’d usually have a section called “Demand”. Of course this section would discuss how wonderful my client was, about how a jury would love him and award him gobs of money. I’d then demand way too much and probably make a couple threats about filing a lawsuit if I did not hear back from the insurance company with a substantial offer… and soon.
A Demand Letter That Works
Then, something happened that caused me never write a thorough demand letter again. I went to work for an insurance company for a couple of years in a management capacity. I realized that those letters really don’t get read that much and when they do, it’s usually just so an insurance adjuster can have a chuckle with his insurance adjuster pals. You see, insurance adjusters evaluate a case based upon evidence, not by what someone argues in a demand letter, whether it’s written well or not. The demand letter should be simply – “Enclosed please find the following….” (See below for an example of one of my demand letters).
After working for the insurance company, I got back into my true calling – representing accident and injury victims. The thorough demand letter is no longer part of my arsenal. If I want to discuss details or even argue with an adjuster, I’ll pick up the phone and discuss those things I think are relevant and may not be contained in the documents I send him for some reason or another. A demand letter is not the most important part of obtaining a fair and full settlement for your personal injury case. The evidence is. Let me say that again in different words – Demand letters don’t get you full and fair settlements. Evidence does. My current demand letters look something more like:
Big Bad Insurance Company
ATTN: Big Bad Insurance Adjuster
PO Box 0000000
Dallas, TX 75266
Re: Claim No: xx-xxxx-xyz
Our Client: John Doe
Date of Accident: 2/22/2017
Enclosed please find the following:
- Illinois Crash Report;
- Wage Loss Verification Form and past tax resturns;
- Medical Expense Summary;
- Medical records and bills from the following providers:
- Highland Park Fire Department;
- NorthShore University Health System;
- Dr. Feelgood;
- Dr. Feelbad;
- Physical Therapy Center;
- MRI Center; and
Pursuant to 215 ILCS 5/143.24b, please provide me with a certified copy of you insured’s policy limits. Also, kindly call me upon your review of said materials so we can work toward resolution. Thanks in advance for your consideration. I look forward to working with you.