Here is an example of what a demand letter might look like in a car accident claim where the crash resulted in serious injury. Feel free to use it as a template to follow when drafting your own correspondence to the at-fault driver's insurance adjuster.
Sample Demand Letter - Car Accident with Serious Injury
February 20, 20xx
Ms. Jane Lindley
P.O. Box 990
Chicago, IL 60007
Re: Your insured: William Hodge
Date of injury: April 4, 20xx
Your file number: 7655454VC [NOTE: Always use the insurer’s file number on all correspondence related to the claim]
Dear Ms. Lindley:
I have finished my medical treatment, and so I am enclosing all of my medical records and bills on this case. [NOTE: Always make sure that the adjuster has all of your medical records and bills relating to your injury when you send a demand letter. The adjuster will not make a settlement offer until he/she has your entire medical file.] As you know, I was injured when your insured ran a red light and hit my car broadside while I was going through the intersection at 4th and Main Streets. The police came to the accident scene and cited your insured for going through a red light. I understand that he subsequently paid the ticket and did not try to appeal it. Accordingly, there can be no question that your insured was negligent in this matter. [NOTE: Your discussion of liability should be short and to the point, especially when liability is strongly in your favor. First, you should explain how you got hurt. Second, you should explain exactly why you claim that the defendant was at fault for the car accident. That’s all that you need to say.]
I was in extreme pain and had to be cut out of my car with the fire department's "jaws of life" tool. I was taken to Community Hospital by ambulance where they told me that I needed emergency surgery. Not only had I suffered herniated discs at L4-5 and L5-S1, but I also had lacerated my left kidney due to the force of the impact. The kidney required emergency surgery. I was in the hospital for five days on serious painkilling medication the whole time.
When I was released, I began seeing three different doctors: my general practitioner, Dr. Melton, who kept track of and prescribed my medications, and oversaw my recovery in general, the kidney specialist, Dr. Frederick, and the orthopedist, Dr. Albert. Dr. Frederick pronounced me recovered from the lacerated kidney in a month. Quite honestly, my back hurt so badly that I did not even notice the pain from the kidney injury.
I had several back x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans to determine the severity of the injury. I could not start physical therapy when Dr. Albert would have liked because Dr. Frederick would not let me do p/t since I was still recovering from the kidney surgery. I finally started p/t two months post-accident, on June 17, but I got nowhere. The disc injuries were too severe. So, Dr. Albert decided that he would do fusion surgeries on both discs. [NOTE: Say exactly what your diagnosis or diagnoses are and do your best to summarize the high points of your treatment chronologically.]
I had the surgery on August 30 and restarted physical therapy at the end of September. Please see the attached spreadsheet for a summary of all of my treatment. [NOTE: When you have had a lot of medical treatment, you should create a spreadsheet that lists all of your medical treatment by health care provider. That helps both you and the insurance claims adjuster.]
Finally, after six months more of physical therapy, pain management, and hard work, I reached a point in my recovery where I could start doing physical things again. It has now been 18 months post-accident, and I am not where I want to be in my recovery, but I am getting there. The recovery has been very painful. I took prescription painkillers until October, and I still take Tylenol daily.
I am a software designer and sit at a desk all day. I could not sit comfortably for months. I was unable to work until the beginning of November. However, my company could not wait for me to recover and was not able to provide me with my job back. I did have six months of short term disability, which I have to repay. [NOTE: If you get short or long term disability, you will have to repay it from any settlement. The adjuster knows that. Make sure to list any disability benefits that you receive.]
I was unable to get a new job until January 2, so I will be claiming lost earnings from April 4 until the end of December, nine months worth.
Before the accident, I was a regular bicyclist. I generally rode five days per week, probably 60 miles per week. I have not yet gotten back onto a bike. I have not gone dancing with my girlfriend. Nor did we do any traveling this summer or fall. I did not rake any leaves this fall and did not shovel any snow this winter. This was a serious accident, and it has prevented me from doing the things that I like to do. [NOTE: Say how the injury has affected your life. You want to explain clearly and concisely your injuries and your pain and suffering. Don’t exaggerate. Just explain what your injuries were and how they affected your life.]
My medical bills total $25,200.00. I paid $1,000 in co-pays. My health insurance paid the remainder of the bills, but they have sent me a letter in which they claim a lien of $14,000.00 on any settlement that I may get in this case.[NOTE: If you have to repay your health insurance (and you almost always have to), make sure that you tell the adjuster.]
My medical bills were as follows:
- City Radiology 3,000.00
- Dr. Albert 7,000.00
- Dr. Frederick 5,000.00
- Dr. Melton 2,000.00
- Community Hospital 25,000.00
- Physical Therapy 5,000.00
TOTAL $47,000.00 [NOTE: You always want to put together a little chart listing your medical bills. Don’t make the adjuster read through them to figure out how they are.]
Before the accident, I worked for Richardson Software earning $2,000 per week. As stated above, I claim nine months (38 weeks) of lost earnings. My medical records clearly state that I was unable to work until November. Accordingly, my lost earnings claim is $76,000. [NOTE: State your lost earnings claim briefly and clearly. Make sure that you have a doctor’s note saying that you needed to be out of work for the entire time that you were out of work.] My total special damages are $123,000.00.
Taking into account your insured’s liability and my serious damages in this case, I demand $425,000.00 to settle this case. Would you please advise as to your thoughts on this matter. [After sending the letter, you should give the adjuster three or four weeks to respond. If you don’t hear from the adjuster in a month, then give him/her a call.]
Very truly yours,
If you make a demand, but are having problems with the adjuster, you should contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer to discuss your options and make sure that your legal rights are protected.