Use this sample as a template to follow when you're putting together your own demand letter in a dog bite injury case.
Sample Demand Letter - Dog Bite Injury
June 12, 20xx
Ms. Francine Masters
Central States Insurance
P.O. Box 1023
Chicago, IL 60504
Re: Your insured: Frederick Allston
Date of injury: January 7, 20xx
Your file number: 44-CD5677 [NOTE: Always use the insurer’s file number on all correspondence]
Dear Ms. Masters:
I have finished treating and so I am enclosing all of my medical records and bills on this case. [NOTE: Always make sure the adjuster has all of your records and bills. The adjuster will not consider your demand until he/she has your entire medical file.] As you know, your insured’s dog, an Irish Setter, bit me on the hand in my own yard, causing a serious wound that took some time to heal. Your insured lives two houses away from me and would customarily leave the dog in his fenced-in yard. The dog had gotten out of the yard a couple of times before. While he had never bitten anyone before, he was clearly a nervous and aggressive type of dog. He was definitely not the type of dog that you would want running around the neighborhood.
On January 7, I was in my unfenced back yard getting wood from my wood pile when the dog approached me. When he came up to me, I went to shoo him away, and he bit me on the right hand. The bite drew blood and it hurt. I knew immediately that it was not a minor bite. I immediately walked away from the dog, went inside, and called your insured. I left a message on his voicemail telling him that his dog was running around in my yard and just bit me. I then went to the emergency room at West Side Hospital, where they had to sew up my hand.
As you know, in this state, there is absolute liability for dog bites. Accordingly, your insured is liable for all of my damages. [NOTE: You want to explain all of the significant facts and then conclude with a statement that the insured is liable. In many states, dog owners are absolutely liable for dog bites. They do not need to be negligent. However, in this example, even if the dog owner had to be negligent before the victim could recover, the negligence would be the fact that the dog had escaped from the dog owner’s fenced in yard. Learn more about a dog owner's liability.]
I went to see my primary care physician, Dr. Mellor, a couple of days later, and he referred me to Dr. Gerson, a plastic surgeon. I saw Dr. Gerson a week later, and he said that he would watch it for a month, and that he might need to do some revision surgery to minimize scarring. Unfortunately, he did need to do a follow-up surgery on March 20. [NOTE: Summarize your medical treatment. You don’t need to give all of the details. You want to describe the main points of your treatment.]
My hand was stitched up, and in a bandage, for the first two weeks after the bite, and then again for three weeks after the plastic surgery. I am a plumber, so I tend to work in wet and sometimes unsanitary areas. Both Dr. Mellor and Dr. Gerson said that I should not work while the stitches were still in my hand. So, I was out of work for 5 weeks total. It was also hard to shovel snow, so I had to hire some local kids to take care of that.
The injury was not particularly painful, but it was a pretty nasty scar that, thankfully, Dr. Gerson was able to make a lot better. I have enclosed photographs of my hand before the original stitches came out, after the stitches came out, before the plastic surgery, after the surgery, and today. You will see that there is still a slight scar. [NOTE: You want to explain clearly and concisely how your injuries affected you. Don’t exaggerate. The adjuster has heard it all before. Just explain what your injuries were and their impact.]
My medical bills total $8,000. I paid $750 in co-pays. My health insurance paid the remainder of the bills, but they also sent me a letter claiming a lien of $4,257.88 on any settlement 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:
Dr. Mellor $500.00
City Medical Partners (Dr. Gerson) $5,000.00
West Side Hospital $2,500.00
TOTAL $8,000.00 [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.]
I work for ABC Plumbing. I earn $1,000 per week and missed five weeks of work. I have attached letters from Drs. Mellor and Gerson saying that I needed to stay out of work for five weeks. Accordingly, my lost earnings claim is $5,000. [NOTE: State your lost earnings claim briefly and clearly. Make sure that you have a doctor’s note saying how long you needed to be out of work. Without this kind of note explicitly stating that you needed to stay out of work, the insurer is probably not going to consider your lost earnings claim.] My total special damages are $13,000.00.
Taking into account your insured’s absolute liability and my serious damages in this case, I demand $75,000 to settle this case. Would you please advise as to your thoughts on this matter.
Very truly yours,
For everything you need to know about injury claims stemming from a dog bite, check out all the articles in our Dog Bites & Other Injuries section.