If you are injured in a car accident and the other party is assumed responsible, one of the first steps you'll need to take when filing a claim with the insurance company is to write a demand letter. This letter outlines the details of your injuries, the medical bills you acquired as a result of those injuries, your loss of wages, and other damages you suffered as a result of your accident. It concludes by demanding payment from the insurance company for these damages.
In order to increase your chances of collecting damages, it's important that your demand letter be well-written. Here are a few tips for writing a more effective demand letter.
Tip #1: Use descriptive language throughout the letter.
Make sure you tell the truth, but don't be afraid to get descriptive when detailing how the accident occurred. For example, the statement "your insured slammed into the passenger side of my car" better conveys the force of the accident and offers more details than the statement "he ran into the side of my car."
Also use details when describing your injuries. Instead of just saying you suffered from a sore neck and back for five days following the accident say something like the following:
"For five days following the accident, by neck was so stiff that I was unable to turn it even 2 inches to the left. I was also unable to sit up because of the stabbing pain in my lower back, which also kept my from sleeping for more than an hour at a time through the night."
Tip #2: Always mention continuing medical issues.
Is your neck still stiff following the accident? Perhaps the swelling in your knee has gone down, but it still feels sore when you bend it. Even if you are confident these nagging aches and pains will go away and your doctor has told you they will, do mention them in your letter. Knowing that there are ongoing issues may encourage the insurance company to settle your claim more quickly, rather than risk having to pay additional medical bills.
Tip #3: Include your personal injury lawyer's contact information.
Hopefully you contacted a personal injury lawyer soon after the accident occurred. There's a chance that the insurance company will agree to pay your damages following your demand letter and that you won't have to work with your lawyer to pursue additional damages or file a case against the other person in the accident, but it's always best to be prepared in case these situations arise. Let your lawyer know that you're sending a demand letter, and ask to include his or her contact information in the letter. If nothing else, this informs the insurance company that you do have a lawyer's support and may make them less likely to delay or deny your claim.
Tip #4: Include supporting documents and refer to them in the letter.
At the very least, you will need to include a copy of the accident report as well as any receipts for medical treatments you've received for injuries sustained in the accident. If you have witness statements, reports of absence from work due to injuries, and letters from supervisors regarding missed work, include these, too. Make sure you mention each of your supporting documents in your letter, using wording like "As you can see in the bill from Hospital X, a copy of which is included with this letter, the total cost of my medical treatment was..."
In many cases, writing a demand letter is pretty straightforward. You open with a summary of the accident, detail your injuries, list your expenses, and demand a sum from the insurance company. If your case is complicated, or if you are not sure how much you should attempt to recover in damages, don't hesitate to contact a personal injury lawyer, like those at Law Office of John Lozano, in your area. If the insurance company denies your claim, you'll likely want to hire a lawyer to fight the decision, anyways.