Has someone else’s irresponsible behavior hurt you and caused you to sustain physical, emotional and financial damages? You might have the right to sue. But before you march down to the courthouse to file your lawsuit, consider sending a personal injury demand letter to the defendant.
Personal injury demand letters are helpful in resolving civil disputes, but you must be careful when drafting a demand letter because the wrong words can diminish your rights. It is best to hire an experienced personal injury attorney to draft this correspondence for you. Our personal injury attorneys at Petro Cohen, P.C., have decades of combined experience and have resolved thousands of personal injury cases in New Jersey.
What Is a Demand Letter?
A personal injury demand letter is a plaintiff’s request for a defendant to make a settlement offer in a dispute. The purpose of a demand letter is to see if you can resolve a civil dispute without litigation (or arbitration). If you are the victim of a defendant’s misconduct, you’ll likely send your demand letter to their insurance company after filing a claim.
What Information Should Be in a Demand Letter?
Litigation/arbitration can be expensive, draining, and unpredictable. This is why many plaintiffs and defendants choose to enter settlements.
If you choose to settle your complaint, you should make sure you receive adequate compensation for your losses and pain. To receive adequate compensation, make sure that your demand letter shows the defendant why they are at fault and how much your case is worth.
Your demand letter should include:
- Information about you and the defendant (including contact information and any relevant claim, transaction, or policy numbers),
- Relevant facts about the incident that are favorable to you,
- A description of your injuries and losses,
- A description of your pain and suffering,
- An itemized list of your financial losses and future financial needs,
- Laws or cases that prove you are entitled to compensation,
- Supporting documentation, and
- A request for payment and any other relief.
If your facts are solid, your legal arguments are well-researched, and your request is reasonable, you have a good chance of receiving the relief you deserve. If you do not include this information, the defendant might ignore you or make inadequate settlement offers.
What Does a Demand Letter Look Like?
Below is a demand letter sample:
Dear Defendant’s Insurance:
I represent Plaintiff. Plaintiff is reaching out to you to request compensation for injuries Defendant, whom you insure, caused Plaintiff on January 1, 2022. Please review the facts according to Plaintiff and the relevant law below.
Around 12:00 p.m. on January 1, 2022, Plaintiff was walking south on the sidewalk along First Street. When Plaintiff reached the intersection of First Street and Second Street, the crosswalk signal indicated that Plaintiff was free to cross the intersection. At this time, Plaintiff checked for oncoming cars in both directions, did not see any, and entered the crosswalk.
As Plaintiff took her first steps on the crosswalk, Defendant’s car turned to the right off of First Street and onto Second Street. When Defendant made this turn, their car rolled over Plaintiff’s left foot, crushing it. Plaintiff called for an ambulance and sought medical attention immediately. The emergency room doctor diagnosed Plaintiff with eleven broken bones in her left foot, and Plaintiff received necessary and immediate surgical intervention.
Plaintiff has not been able to work at her job as a dance instructor since the injury. Plaintiff’s foot surgeon anticipates she will have ongoing pain and limitations with her foot on a permanent basis. Because of the pain and difficulty, Plaintiff has not had a full night’s sleep for the past two months.
New Jersey Statute Section 39:4-32(a) states, “No driver of a vehicle shall fail to stop and remain stopped for a pedestrian crossing a roadway at a crosswalk.” Defendant’s actions on January 1, 2022, violated this law and caused serious injury to Plaintiff. Plaintiff is entitled to compensation from your insured.
REQUEST FOR COMPENSATION
Plaintiff requests compensation in the amount of [DOLLAR AMOUNT] to cover her medical care, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Please see the medical records, invoices, wage records, and itemized list of losses attached to this letter.
Please send your response to the address below. Plaintiff appreciates your attention to this matter.
Of course, your demand letter will be tailored to the specifics of your situation. But you can see why you need the help of a skilled personal injury attorney in drafting one. An attorney will know the key facts to mention and the relevant points of law to make to let the other party know you mean business.
Why Should an Attorney Draft the Demand Letter?
A defendant can nitpick the words you use in a demand letter to argue that your account is not credible, or you were at fault. A defendant might also use your words to argue that you waived your rights to damages or legal protections. An experienced attorney knows how to avoid these traps and maximize your recovery.
When Do You Send a Demand Letter?
It is important to send your demand letter as soon as you have a good idea of what all your injury-related losses will be. Ideally, a demand letter should not be sent until treatment has concluded unless the injuries sustained far outweigh any available insurance coverage. In any case, you need to send your demand letter less than two years after your date of injury if the case is in a position to be resolved. This is because you need to give yourself the option to sue if settlement fails, and you have only two years to sue in a personal injury case. Your attorney can handle this timeline while you heal.
Trust Petro Cohen, P.C. with Your Personal Injury Case
At Petro Cohen, P.C., our injury attorneys have decades of experience handling thousands of personal injury cases with successful outcomes for our clients, fighting hard to recover fair compensation and appropriate medical care for their injuries. Petro Cohen, P.C. Managing Partner Susan Petro heads the Personal Injury Department, which includes experienced injury attorneys Rich Gaeckle and Mike Veneziani. Whether your injury resulted from a slip and fall, construction site mishap, or an accident involving an automobile, truck, motorcycle, boat, or bicycle, we can help, even if it means litigating against big corporations or public entities. Petro Cohen, P.C. has offices to serve you in Northfield, Cape May Court House, Cherry Hill, and Hamilton, NJ. To determine if you may have a potential personal injury case, schedule your free and confidential consultation with a Petro Cohen, P.C. lawyer. You can contact us through our online form or via 24/7 live chat at PetroCohen.com.