After you’ve been in an accident, creating a proper personal injury demand letter for the insurance companies is one of the most important things you can do. A demand letter (also known as a demand package) goes through each stage of your claim from the date of the accident through the date of the letter and provides a summary of what happened, how it’s impacted your life, who you believe is at fault as well as a detailed account of the costs you’ve incurred as a result of the accident.
Most importantly, a good demand letter will help you maximize the possibility of a high settlement to your claim.
Here are the 6 essential elements of a personal injury demand letter:
1. Police Report
The police report is important – especially when injuries are involved – because it provides the insurance company with an unbiased account of the accident from a trusted third party.
The police report will include an accident description with important details such as the direction each vehicle was driving, the cause of the accident (referenced by vehicle code) and a diagram visually depicting the accident. The police report will also include the officer’s name, badge number and a traffic incident number so it can be referenced easily.
Approximately 10 days after an accident, the police department will make them available to the public. In Sacramento, CA, you can get your report by making a written request and paying a nominal fee.
Not every accident will require a police report. If there are no injuries, it’s unlikely that the police will be dispatched to generate a description of the accident. In this case, it’s OK to not include a police report in the demand letter.
2. Medical Narrative Report
The medical narrative report from your doctor(s) should be the first thing the insurance adjuster sees. The report should provide an end-to-end description of your treatment and a detailed description of the injuries you’ve sustained. Don’t request the narrative until after you’ve fully completed your treatment because the report must also state that you’re back to your pre-accident condition (or as close as you are going to get).
3. Medical Records and Bills
Along with the medical narrative report, you should include your medical records in reverse chronological order (most recent date on top). This makes it easier for an adjuster to see the treatment you’ve followed.
Last in this section is your medical billings (sometimes referred to as “specials”). Specials tell a claims adjuster the value of your medical treatment. If you’ve seen multiple doctors, the demand letter should list them separately with a bottom line figure for your total medical bills. Include copies of the bills of each medical provider.
4. Photographs of the Accident and Damage
Photographic evidence is the best evidence to describe the damage caused by the accident – far better than words alone. It’s a good idea to take your own photos from every angle – even if your vehicle was towed from the scene. Take photos of the other vehicles involved and anything at the scene that you think is important such as skid marks, shattered glass, or conditions that contributed to the accident such as an obstructed stop sign or a hazardous condition. A description coupled with color photos is an excellent tool to substantiate vehicle damage which is directly related to the value of the claim. Photos also protect against the possibility that evidence helpful to you will be destroyed between the time of the accident and the time you receive your settlement.
5. Estimates for Automobile Damage
Any estimates you received from car mechanics and/or auto body shops should be included along with the accident photos.
6. Wage Loss Claims
If you have missed any days of work, it’s important that the adjuster know. Get a letter from your supervisor that includes the days missed and your rate of pay, whether salaried or hourly.
Once you put it all together, your demand letter may be anywhere from (20) pages to over 100 pages, depending on the volume of your records and supporting documentation. Done well, the demand letter will help the insurance adjuster understand the value of your case and help maximize the amount you get for your personal injury claim.
More Personal Injury Demand Letters Resources
California Demand Letter Sample Template Download (Source: http://rftmlaw.com/)