Why Is a Well-Written Demand Letter Important?
When you are in an accident, it is customary to send the negligent party or his or her insurer a demand letter stating what monetary compensation is owed. This letter also lists other costs associated with the accident such as property damage and wage loss. In short, the letter is a way of formally letting the negligent party know what they owe you and alerting them to the fact that you are demanding payment. Let’s take a look at how to write a demand letter along with a sample template you can use.
Data shows that in 33 percent of all cases, a demand letter leads to an acceptable settlement. This means that filing a claim is unnecessary. The letter indicates that you are serious about your request and suggests that you will follow through with a lawsuit if necessary. By doing this, you are making it clear that it benefits the other party to settle the case before they are forced into a protracted civil lawsuit.
What Information Does a Demand Letter Contain?
The demand letter explains clearly why the plaintiff (the injured party) is asking for compensation. It is essential to present the facts in a logical format, listing the events chronologically in a concise and readable manner. Remember, you know what happened, but the reader does not.
Above all, be polite. Using aggressive language merely undermines your effort to recover losses. By appearing angry and antagonistic, you dash any hope of fruitful negotiation. An added reason to keep the demand letter above the fray is that if the matter cannot be settled amicably, the court will likely read the letter when deciding in your case.
Length of a Demand Letter
Droning on in a demand letter may hurt you rather than helping. For instance, a lengthy, rambling letter may scramble the facts, and leave the reader uncertain about how the accident happened and what you hope to gain. There is no absolute length for a demand letter, but it is best to keep it as short as possible while still incorporating the pertinent details.
Take a moment and read the letter after your first draft. If it confuses you, it will confuse those who are not familiar with the circumstances. Start with your original draft and pare it down.
Organization Is Essential
Whether you are writing a demand letter or preparing to file a lawsuit, organization is essential. The elements of the accident and evidence pointing to negligence by the at-fault party are important factors in any case. Laying them out carefully in a demand letter makes the defendant understand that you should not be ignored. It also tells the defendant that you are in charge and able to present the facts to the court in a winning manner.
Tips When Writing a Demand Letter
There are things you can do to make your demand letter more effective. They are:
- Make it look professional: Aside from the content, the letter needs to have a professional appearance. While writing it in longhand may get the idea across, typing it is preferred. In addition to merely looking better, it may be easier to read.
- Don’t be aggressive: Present the facts calmly. By appearing agitated and angry, the believability of your letter will suffer. Besides, people or companies tend to respond in kind. An angry letter gets an angry response.
- Facts are essential: While you know the facts inside and out, not everyone does. A judge, jury or others involved in the case will also read the demand letter. Simply present the events that led up to the accident, any subsequent interchanges with the defendant, including telephone calls or incidents such as threats by the other party. Be complete but concise.
- State what you need to be compensated: Tell the other party what you need to be compensated for the cost of damages attributable to the accident such as medical expenses, wage loss, property damage and the subsequent pain and suffering you experienced. List your losses, so there is no confusion about what you want.
- Deadlines are important: Make it clear that your opponent needs to respond in a timely manner. Give them one to two weeks from receipt of the letter, and give them the actual date. If this is not done, the matter can drag on indefinitely while your debt keeps mounting.
- Make copies of the letter: Don’t assume that once you write and send the letter that it will be acted upon. It might become part of a lawsuit. If so, you will need copies of the letter, and chances are your opponent will not provide them.
- Read over the letter several times after it is finished, checking for spelling and grammar mistakes. There are online apps available that will help you do this.
Demand Letter Sample – A Concise Template
Your demand letter should have the following:
Name of the Insurance Company/Adjuster
Salutation (Dear Mr./Ms. Recipient):
- Explanation of accident – how, where and when it happened.
- The cost you incurred due to the accident – list medical expenses, wage loss, property damage and other trauma you suffered, such as pain and suffering. Bullet points make it easier to understand.
- List and discuss any subsequent conversations/promises made to you to repay the damages and/or arguments against reimbursing you.
- Provide evidence that proves your case.
- Provide the amount of compensation that is needed to cover the costs, and give the mailing address to which the defendant can send it.
- Provide a deadline for the payment to be made.
- Tell the other party that you are willing to take the matter to court if it is not settled amicably.