What Goes in a Good Demand Letter?

what is a demand letter

What you’ll learn reading this article:

  1. A demand letter should only include factual statements and should avoid opinion and bias; because of this, it is a good idea to have an attorney draft a demand letter for you. 
  2. Demand letters serve as the starting-off point for getting your case settled and getting compensation for injuries you’ve sustained due to the negligence of another party. 
  3. Demand letters can serve as great documentation and an outline of your case against the negligent party should it need to go to trial. 

What Is a Demand Letter?

A demand letter is an official letter sent by a law firm to an insurance company demanding a specific amount of compensation for injuries suffered by the client. Used as a tool by lawyers throughout the case, the demand letter serves as both documentation and an outline for the lawyers should the case proceed to litigation.

What Does a Demand Letter Do?

When breaking down a demand letter, the important elements include:

  • Key facts of the case.
  • The theory of liability.
  • Medical records.
  • The damages, including medical bills.
  • The demand.

The demand letter will first and foremost put forth the facts of the case. In the case of a car accident, for example, these facts will be drawn from the police accident report and any witness statements. Specific details of the accident will be provided, such as the road the individual was driving on, what type of vehicle they were driving and how the accident occurred. It will then discuss liability, medical records and finally damages before putting in a demand for compensation.

By laying out all of the known facts of the case, a demand letter summarizes the accident, injuries and financial losses of the client as the result of the accident. Usually itemized, these noted damages provide the evidence and impetus for fair compensation.

The lawyer will go into as much detail as possible when discussing your injuries, providing important information about how they were sustained, how they were diagnosed, and how they affect your physical, mental and emotional life. The narrative of your treatment will be recounted, from any ambulance trips from the scene of the accident to emergency room treatments, diagnostic testing, surgeries, follow-up appointments, physical therapy and more. Each specific appointment, treatment and bill in your medical record will be documented, examined and explained. This provides a clear and comprehensive picture of the injury and its impact on your life and finances.

After detailing your medical history, the letter will itemize damages from your medical bills and property damages. If you’ve suffered from lost wages and/or future lost wages, the lawyer will tally these up. The letter will also attempt to put a number on the noneconomic damages you’ve suffered, such as the pain you’ve had to endure due to the injury and anguish you’ve experienced.

Finally, the letter will make a demand. Due to X, Y and Z, the client has suffered this amount, and we demand this amount in compensation by this date. While it would be rare for the insurance company to agree immediately to the terms laid out, the demand letter provides the starting point for getting your case settled.

Why Use a Demand Letter?

Often used to present information to the liable individual’s insurance company, a demand letter can accomplish several key things:

  • Apart from serving as a nice summary of the dispute between the injured client and the liable party, the demand letter also lets the recipient know you are serious about seeking compensation.
  • Should your case go to trial, the demand letter shows the court that you made a good faith effort to resolve the claim prior to court involvement and using court resources.
  • The demand letter can serve as a valuable outline for litigation should your case go to trial.

Having an attorney draft a demand letter to an insurance company after you’ve suffered an injury due to the negligent actions of another party can be a great first step towards recovering compensation for your physical, emotional and financial losses.

Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery—Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been injured physically or mentally by a person, product or company, you need to know your legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced with cases like yours and can evaluate what your case may be worth. We will ensure that you are protected and compensated for your injuries and losses.

Why pay up to 40% in attorney fees? Our fee is only 25%*, and we fight to win your case or you pay no attorney fees at all. Don’t hesitate—one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call (800) 265-9881 for a free case review.

Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Rich Bucheri from Poynter & Bucheri and today I want to talk about what goes in a good demand letter. So a demand letter is something that we and other law firms send out to the insurance companies, demanding an amount of compensation for the injuries that our clients have. So the first thing we do is we’re going to talk about the facts, what happened in the case.

So if it’s a car accident then we’re going to get a lot of facts from the police report and from the witness statements. Our client was driving on such and such highway, they had the right of way and then your client ran a stop sign and slammed into the side of her. Then we’re going to talk about our theory of liability. So what was it that causes them to have to pay for your injuries and your damages?

So the theory of liability is going to be usually one of negligence that they failed in their duty of care, whether it was to obey traffic laws or was to keep the floor safe for its customers. So whatever that theory of liability is, we’re going to include that in the demand letter. Then we’re going to talk about your injuries and we’re going to get into a lot of detail. We’re going to request all of your medical records for all the treatment that you had and then we’re going to go through the medical records and we’re going to write a narrative for everything that you did.

So usually it starts off by you went to the hospital by ambulance and then maybe you followed up with your primary care doctor and then they sent you to a specialist and then after you went to the specialist, you had to have surgery. Or they sent you to physical therapy, and we’re going to outline all of those treatments and all of those doctor visits.

Then we’re going to talk about your damages. We’re going to talk about the medical bills related to that treatment and then if you had any lost wages or we’re going to put a number on your pain and suffering and a permanent pyramid. So those are the types of things that we’re going to itemize in your damages section.

Then we’re going to, based on that, make a demand to the insurance company. As a result of your insured’s negligence, we demand such and such amount for compensation, whatever that amount may be. Obviously we will go over that amount with you before we make it. But basically this demand letter is a tool that is often referred to throughout the case, even if you’re not able to get the case settled right after you send the demand letter, because you can rest assured the insurance company is not going to say, “Yeah, we’re going to pay whatever you ask for.” What they usually will do will counter with a much lesser amount, but we’ll have this demand letter, which we’ll use as an outline for how we litigate the case later on. Then if we have to present the case to a jury, we will have an outline there as well.