Demand letters give a full account and details of the accident and the damages incurred as a result of the incident. Typically, an attorney will write the letter for you. Having a reputable attorney who has handled numerous injury claims and is accustomed to drafting these letters gives you a better chance of a favorable outcome.
At Harris Law Firm, PLLC, our top-rated Greenville personal injury attorneys are strong, dedicated advocates for our clients. We have helped injured victims in Mississippi for over three decades.
Our legal team wants to make sure that all victims have the information that they need to protect their rights and interests. Here, we provide an overview of the most important things that you need to know about drafting effective demand letters.
What is the Demand Letter?
Before you start drafting a demand letter, it is important that you understand the core purpose: the goal of a demand letter is to make progress towards resolving your claim. In most cases, it is a very important step in the claims process.
Within a demand letter, a plaintiff — or more accurately, a potential plaintiff, as no case would have actually been filed at this point — is giving formal notice that they are considering and preparing to take legal action against a defendant.
To be clear, sending a demand letter is not the same thing as filing a lawsuit. It is a request (a demand) to settle a claim outside of litigation.
Of course, that does not mean that you are going to get a check for the full and fair value of your damages in the mail simply because you sent a demand letter.
Even the perfect demand letter may not result in an immediate settlement — though it could in some cases.
More frequently, a demand letter is the beginning of a dialogue between the parties. It initiates a process through which your legal dispute can be resolved. In some cases, the personal injury claim can even reach a settlement without the need to file a lawsuit.
Understanding the Most Important Elements in a Demand Letter
An effective demand letter must address a number of different issues and it must meet certain standards. Indeed, If you choose to write a demand letter yourself there are some important elements that will enhance the outcome of the letter.
It is crucial that your demand letter is professional, persuasive, and comprehensive. Among other things, some elements to a demand letter that stands out from others include:
- The plaintiff’s account of the accident
- A full and detailed list of the damages
- The specific costs of the damages, such as medical bills; and
- The amount of compensation demanded
In other words, your demand letter should do the following: It should provide a basic explanation of what happened in your accident, it should explain why the defendant bears responsibility for your damages, and it should clearly state what the potential defendant needs to do in order to settle your claim (resolve your demands).
In addition to this, you should make it explicit in your demand letter that your investigation is still ongoing. Put another way, your demand letter is not your final say on the matter.
A well-drafted demand letter will typically include a deadline for a settlement.
By including a deadline in the letter, you can help to ensure that your case will proceed on a reasonable, sensible timeline. You do not want to allow the claim to linger, as that could potentially cause you problems down the road.
If you do not receive a satisfactory response before your deadline, it may be time to file a personal injury lawsuit.
A good lawyer will know how to present your claims in the most efficient, effective manner.
If you are considering drafting a demand letter on your own, please remember that the point of the letter is to present the information as factually as possible—without trying to overemphasize or dramatize the incident. The evidence brought forth may further support any claims that the accident and resulting injuries have had on your life.
The tone of the letter should always be polite and professional.
A demand letter is generally not the appropriate forum for highly charged, emotional language. Beyond that, it is critically important that you draft the letter with your audience in mind.
If you want to preserve a relationship with the other party, you should be especially sensitive. While there is no required length for a demand letter, it is typically a good idea to keep it relatively brief.
Certainly, you must provide enough information to allow the other party to understand the claim and understand what they need to do to resolve your demands, but, at the same time, you should make sure that your point is made in a clear and concise manner.
What Are the Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Demand Letter?
In drafting a demand letter, there are a number of different mistakes that you need to take care to avoid. First and foremost, you should never use any nasty, abusive, or threatening language in this document.
A demand letter should always be polite.
Using abusive or threatening language will not work in your favor — not only will it make the defendant less likely to want to settle your claim, it could even cause damage to your actual case.
Beyond that, you should never include dishonest or misleading details in your demand letter. Every line that you put in your demand letter could potentially be used against you. Be careful.
Even if you want to draft a demand letter on your own, it is strongly recommended that you get the letter reviewed by an experienced Greenville personal injury attorney. An attorney can give you some guidance and help ensure that sending your letter is in your best interests.
When to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit
A demand letter is a step toward filing a lawsuit. With personal injury claims, filing a lawsuit is considered the last step in obtaining compensation in personal injury and civil litigation.
It preserves your right, as the plaintiff, to pursue the matter once the statute of limitations has run out.
Demand letters will typically precede filing suit, but if a plaintiff and defendant cannot come to a compromise, then it may be necessary to initiate a lawsuit.
Even if you decide to draft your own demand letter, you should consult with a Mississippi personal injury attorney before filing a lawsuit.
It is imperative that your claim is filed properly.
Need Help Writing an Effective Demand Letter? Contact Harris Law Firm Today
At Harris Law Firm, PLLC, we are prepared to fight for the rights and interests of injured victims in Greenville, MS, and the surrounding areas. If you were hurt, our injury lawyers can assist you to find the proper and deserved settlement for your claims.
To schedule a free, fully confidential personal injury consultation, please do not hesitate to contact our Greenville, MS law office at (662) 335-4171.