An important part of most personal injury claims is the demand letter. A demand letter is a formal, written document that clearly says what the victim wants in compensation. The letter states the basis for the monetary demand and provides the relevant information for the other party to evaluate it. If you’re injured in a personal injury accident, you need a winning demand letter. Here’s everything you need to know, explained by personal injury attorneys.
What To Include in an Injury Demand Letter
To write a winning demand letter, clearly state the following information:
- The date of the accident
- Name of the insured
- Policy number, if available
- What parties were involved in the accident
- Events leading up to and causing the accident
- Detailed information regarding economic damages, broken down by category
- Explanation of non-economic damages
- The victim/claimant’s contact information
In addition to the information above, it may be necessary to attach documentation. Helpful supplements may include verification of injuries, financial losses and statements that support the basis of non-economic losses. Knowing what information to include and exclude can be tricky. On the one hand, you don’t want to disclose your entire legal claim. However, you want to have enough supporting information to make a compelling case. Your attorney can help you determine a strategy for what to include in your demand letter.
Can a Lawyer Send a Demand Letter?
Yes, a lawyer can send a demand letter. In fact, when you’re represented by an attorney, one of the things that they do on your behalf is communicate with the insurance company. A lawyer can use their training and experience to write a compelling demand letter that outlines your case. They can send the letter and engage in any follow-up negotiations that develop. Finally, if you receive a settlement offer, a lawyer can help you evaluate it to determine whether you should accept the offer or continue to pursue the case.
What Happens After a Demand Letter Is Sent?
After a demand letter is sent, the insurance company considers the information in the letter. They may take several actions:
- Deny the request for compensation. Typically, an insurance company must state a reason for denying a claim
- Ask for more information
- Send a counteroffer of settlement
- Accept the demand and pay the claim
The victim may file a legal claim for compensation at any time. However, the victim should pay close attention to deadlines and the statute of limitations. Sending a demand letter does not stay the statute of limitations. The victim must have their legal claim filed before the deadline expires regardless of the exchange of demand letters and negotiating settlement compensation.
How Long Does an Insurance Company Have To Answer a Demand Letter in Nevada?
Nevada law 683A.3101 requires the insurance company to respond “reasonably promptly” to communications regarding insurance claims. If communications are not timely, the insurance company may be deemed to be engaging in unfair practices. To be the basis of a complaint for bad faith, the victim must give the insurance company a reasonable amount of time to respond to the demand letter.
A reasonable amount of time is enough to investigate and make an informed decision about whether to accept the claim. Additionally, in the State of Nevada, an insurance company has 28 days to respond to a consumer complaint filed with the Nevada Division of Insurance2.
What Happens if There Is No Response to a Demand Letter?
If there is no response to a demand letter, the victim may proceed to file a lawsuit. Fortunately, the victim has a recourse when an insurance company fails to answer. The victim may pursue compensation through the courts. In addition, based on the lack of response, it may also be appropriate to assert bad faith and unfair practices in the claim. The insurance company has to answer the lawsuit or the victim can request a default judgment against them.
Demand Letter Template
Here is a sample demand letter for a slip and fall accident. You can use the basic outline and make changes to reflect your specific situation:
[YOUR STREET ADDRESS]
[CITY, STATE ZIP]
MONTH DAY, YEAR
[INSURANCE COMPANY NAME]
[INSURANCE COMPANY STREET ADDRESS]
[CITY, STATE ZIP]
Dear Insurance Company Representative:
On [DATE], I was in a slip and fall accident at [NAME OF STORE] at [ADDRESS]. At [TIME], I was in the store shopping. As I turned a corner, I tripped over a boxed television that was lying in the aisle. I have enclosed a copy of the incident report in question, as well as photographs taken of the incident and statements from two witnesses. Big Box Store is your insured party.
In failing to keep the aisles clear, [NAME OF STORE] created a dangerous situation on their premises. [STATE] law creates a legal liability for property owners who negligently allows a hazardous condition to exist on their premises.
As a result of my slip and fall accident, I was badly injured and taken to [HOSPITAL/CARE FACILITY]. There, I underwent surgery and diagnostic tests. I have still not returned to work. I continue to suffer from residual pain and physical limitations.
A breakdown of my economic losses are as follows:
Medical bills/treatment: $_____________
Out of pocket costs: $_____________
Property damages: $_____________
Lost wages: $_____________
Pain and suffering: $_____________
Other losses: $_____________
My losses total $_____________. After careful review of the issues involved in this claim, I believe this to be a fair and equitable settlement of this matter.
I look forward to your prompt attention to this matter.
Remember, each demand letter must be carefully tailored to the unique situation. This is just an example. Some demand letters need to be very long and detailed. Other times it’s best to keep it brief.
You can look up demand letter templates specific to your type of accident, including a sample demand letter for car accident injuries, that will help you cover everything you need when addressing the insurance company.
An experienced attorney for personal injury demand letters can help you create an effective letter that is right for your legal strategy. They can also help you evaluate the response from the insurance company and determine the next steps.
1 NRS 683A.310. https://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-686A.html#NRS686ASec310.
2 Nevada Division of Insurance. File a Complaint. Retrieved 5 February 2021 from https://doi.nv.gov/Consumers/File-A-Complaint/.