The demand letter begins your negotiation process. Learn how personal injury lawyers write them to get you maximum compensation.
About Demand Letters in Personal Injury Cases
You’ve been injured. You’ve hired a competent personal injury lawyer.
Good, now most of the process from here is on the lawyer.
Once you have concluded treatment and the full extent of your injuries is known your lawyer will write a demand letter to the at-fault party and/or the insurance carrier for the at-fault party.
A demand letter is just like it sounds: you state your personal injury claim explaining why the defending party owes you money, and you tell them how much they owe you.
Now it’s important to remember that this letter simply starts the negotiation process. There will always be back-and-forth arguing, and usually a compromise. If no compromise happens, then your case goes to court.
It should be noted that roughly 90% of cases settle out of court because it costs more time and money (that no one wants to pay) to go to court.
From a high level, this is what a good personal injury lawyer does in your demand letter:
Outlines the Strongest Arguments Supporting Your Injury Claim
After talking with you about your case and gathering a paper trail of all the evidence that supports your case, your attorney sums it all up in your demand letter.
Your demand letter:
- States your past, present, and future injuries
- Discusses why the other party is liable for your injuries
- Outlines your medical treatment and its costs
- Details how much income you lost
- Explains any other damages you suffered
Don’t Point Out Any of the Weaknesses in Your Injury Claim
This is negotiations 101. You never state any of the holes or weak points in your argument.
That’s because the defending party’s lawyer will immediately identify those and use them to reduce your claim amount, or even eliminate it entirely. It’s perfectly legal and ethical to leave those out and force the defending party to bring them up.
Start with the Highest Amount You Can Get for Your Injury Claim
Remember, this is a negotiation process. The defending party will almost always cite their own reasons as to why the amount your lawyer requests is too high. And if you start off with a lowball offer, they’ll try to whittle that down too.
The negotiation process is one of the key areas where having a skilled personal injury lawyer helps your cause a ton. Hire an unskilled or inexperienced personal injury lawyer, and you can leave six or even seven figures on the table (no exaggeration).
Include Supporting Documents
Your demand letter will include the paper trail of evidence that supports your claim.
So yeah, this is going to be a pretty thick envelope! Police reports, medical records, and bills will all be included to advocate for your case.
Should You Write Your Own Personal Injury Demand Letter?
In most cases, no. A personal injury lawyer knows the law and how to win in negotiations. You can spend lots of time researching the law, time you probably don’t have. And you’ll miss out on certain sections of law you’re not aware of. Plus, the insurance company gets excited because they know you don’t know the law as well as they do.
In rare cases, where you have a small amount to pursue (a few thousand or so) and attorney’s fees would eat up almost anything you win, it makes sense to try it yourself. But in most cases, you’re better off talking to an attorney.
It’s free to talk to one anyway, so it’s worth your time to at least check it out.
Shane V. Mullen is an attorney licensed by the State of Texas for the general practice of law, and the Managing Partner at Mullen & Mullen Law Firm in Dallas, TX. His firm focuses exclusively on personal injury law and has been in business for 40 years. Before becoming a lawyer, Shane worked for his father as an accident injury claims investigator.