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Mike Myers
Mike Myers
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The Demand Letter – A Weighty Document

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The demand letter plays a critical role in any personal injury claim. It acts as the injured person’s first request for money from the at-fault parties or their insurance companies. The demand letter represents the whole reason the claim is being pursued – to recover money to compensate the injured person for his or her damages.

The demand letter typically describes the accident, itemizes the injuries, outlines the medical care, explains why the defendant is liable and concludes with the demand. Note that the term “demand” in synonymous with “offer of settlement.” However, in the context of negotiated personal injury claims, the idiom dictates that injured persons make demands and at fault parties make “offers.”

It is important to make sure all the information in the demand letter is correct. The document serves as a foundational element for much of the subsequent work in the case. It also makes a “first impression” on the adjuster or attorney representing the at fault party. It’s always important to make a good first impression.

While accuracy is important, excruciating detail and precision is not. Attorneys and adjusters like to emphasize the quantitative nature of personal injury claims. But personal injury claims are really more qualitative than quantitative. Precision is really a veneer and the value of cases can only be accurately expressed in terms of a range (rather than a precise number).

The demand letter is a lot more like framing a house than building a watch. The tolerances involved are expressed in terms of quarters or eighths or sixteenths of an inch rather than in thousandths of an inch. While it’s important to accurately identify all providers and procedures, the outcome in the case is not going to be affected if there is a small deviation in terms of the charges made by a particular provider.

The demand letter should be sent as soon as injured persons either finish the treatment they are receiving due to the accident, or there is reasonable certainty regarding their prognoses. Delay only benefits the insurance company.

Time is money. The sooner a demand letter is sent, the sooner the injured person will receive compensation…or elicit more information.

The demand letter doesn’t always result in an immediate offer. Sometimes it elicits a denial of liability and no offer whatsoever.

In these cases, the demand letter continues to serve as a foundational document while drawing additional information from the other side. If a lawsuit has to be filed, it’s good to know that at the outset. We’re more than happy to handle cases involving disputed liability but want to know as soon as possible that there is in fact a dispute so that we can file suit and litigate that issue.

Sending the demand letter is a positive, proactive and practical step to be taken as soon as possible in all personal injury cases.