Personal Injury Lawyer FAQ: What is a Demand Letter?

Following an accident, a personal injury lawyer in [location] might draft and send an initial demand letter to the insurance company belonging to the negligent party (or defendant). A demand letter notifies the party of the claim and may briefly explain what you are seeking. 

Why Lawyers Like Demand Letters
Demand letters are essentially the first part of the claims process. They are essentially the initiate to a negotiation. Although it is very possible the demand letter won’t work, and negotiations will be a failure, this is rarely the case. The chances of your case going all the way to court is very small. A good personal injury lawyer should be able to draft a demand letter that can be backed up through sound logic and reasoning. Further negotiations, mediation, or arbitration may be included to ensure you recover maximum damages. 

Just as insurance companies have their own tactics they might use against you, a demand letter is a negotiation tactic used by your personal injury lawyer. A demand letter lets the insurance company know you are serious, and you will not accept anything less than what you deserve. In general, when an insurance company receives an official demand letter from a personal injury lawyer, they are more likely to offer a reasonable settlement that is greater than what you would have received had you not hired a legal advocate.

Understanding Demand Letters
As the plaintiff, you will not have the responsibility of drafting a demand letter on your own. Rather, a personal injury lawyer handling your case will do this for you. That said, it may help to have a better understanding of what may be included.

The Facts
A demand letter will detail many facts around the accident including:

  • What led up to the accident 
  • Who was involved
  • Why the accident occurred
  • Who may be to blame

It is certainly possible for the insurance company to view these facts differently. A personal injury lawyer should back these facts up with evidence that supports what is being said. 

The Costs
A demand letter will also include an amount of money that essentially settles your case. This is called the demand. The demand is weighed against the costs of failing to accept it.

The Law and Rules
In addition to the facts and the demand, a personal injury lawyer may choose to include any relevant laws of the state that support your position as the plaintiff.

Other Elements of a Demand Letter
A demand letter may also include:

  • The ability of the insurance company to settle now for a reasonable amount, and before the case goes to trial – something that can be very costly for them. 
  • Supporting documents such as medical records, photographs of the accident, logs, expert testimony reports, and more. 
  • A deadline for which the insurance company must accept the settlement offer. The average deadline is 15 days, but could be more or less. 

Demand letters are an important element in a personal injury case. If you are seeking maximum damages, then you should consider having a personal injury lawyer, like a personal injury lawyer in St. Paul, MN, on your side. 

Thank you to JOHNSTON | MARTINEAU PLLP for their insight into hiring an attorney after an injury.