This is a sample demand letter for an auto collision claim involving minor soft tissue injuries. The person making the claim has just over $1,000 in medical bills, missed a few days of work, and also had to skip a special event because of lingering pain caused by the collision. (Get the basics on writing a car accident settlement demand letter.)
We are not your lawyer, and this sample letter is not a replacement for qualified legal advice. It is for instructional purposes only. If you think you have a personal injury claim, you should consider hiring an experienced personal injury attorney. This is especially true if the facts are complicated, your injuries are serious, or there are difficult legal issues involved. An attorney can guide you through the process and help you to maximize the value of your case.
Oliver Simon Ball
135 Southwood Lane
London, CT 12345
March 15, 20xx
All Risk Insurance Company
4800 Covent Boulevard
Gainsville, CT 00000
Re: Your Insured, Matthew White
Claimant: Oliver Simon Ball
Claim No.: G 765-93
Date of Loss: January 13, 20xx
Dear Ms. Butler:
As I told you in my claim notice letter of January 17, 20xx, I was injured in an automobile accident with your insured, Matthew White, on January 13, 20xx in Highgate, Connecticut. (The term "accident" might suggest that this was simply an unfortunate event, and that nobody is really to blame. If you want to avoid this inference, you might use one or more synonyms such as "collision," "car wreck," or "crash.") This letter is my pre-filing settlement demand.
I was headed west on Hornsey Lane and was stopped at the stop sign at the intersection with Highgate Hill Road. While I was stopped, your insured, Mr. White, slammed into the back of my car. (The phrase "slammed into" is more dramatic than "hit," and emphasizes the force of the impact and the seriousness of your injuries, both important factors in the settlement value of a personal injury claim.) The force of the impact threw me forward against my shoulder restraint, and my head violently snapped forward and back. (Describing exactly how you were injured makes it easier for the adjuster to understand what caused your injuries.)
My Injuries and Medical Treatment
In the middle of that night, I woke with a severe headache and an extremely stiff neck. ( A "severe" headache and "extremely stiff" neck sound more serious than a headache and stiff neck.) The next morning I went to the emergency room at Highgate Medical Center. The emergency room doctor examined me and ordered X-rays of my neck and back. The doctor diagnosed a cervical strain, fitted me with a cervical collar, and advised bed rest. Because of the severe pain, the doctor also prescribed pain medication. (The fact that medication was prescribed shows that the treating doctor took the injury seriously. Learn more about how the "right" medical treatment affects settlement value after an injury.)
I was in considerable pain for the next five days. My pain was only partially and temporarily relieved by the prescribed pain medicine. I missed three days of work, and I was forced to skip the 50th birthday party in Boston of an old and dear friend. On Monday of the next week I returned to work, but still with pain and stiffness and wearing a cervical collar, which made doing my job very difficult. (Mentioning continued "pain and suffering" shows that even though Oliver went back to work, his injury was not yet healed.)
The doctor told me to remove the cervical collar after two weeks. But I continued to have lots of soreness and stiffness for another two weeks, interfering with my sleep and making it impossible to enjoy any recreation or to drive unless absolutely necessary. (Disruptions in Oliver's sleep and other daily life activities shows that his return to work did not end the effects of the injury, and that he continued to suffer pain, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.) I still suffer occasional neck stiffness and sleep disruptions. (Continuing problems suggest that Oliver might need additional medical care. This could prompt the insurance adjuster to settle the claim quickly rather than risk that Oliver will have to return for more medical treatment that would increase his medical damages.)
Your Insured's Negligence
Mr. White's fault is beyond dispute. I was stopped at a stop sign. Mr. White slammed into the back of my car at high speed. This is a textbook case of negligence. Because of Mr. White's negligence, I suffered a period of extreme pain and discomfort that lasted for several weeks. I have occasional pain that continues to this day. Not only was my normal daily life disrupted, but I was forced to miss the 50th birthday party of a very dear friend whom I rarely get to see. Mr. White's liability is beyond dispute.
My medical records and bills are attached. (Have a look at this introduction to personal injury damages.) Here is a summary of my medical expenses:
|Highgate Med. Center (emergency room)||$750|
|Highgate Med. Center (X-rays)||$190|
I work as an assistant manager at Battersea Grocery. My injuries forced me to miss three days of work. As the enclosed letter from Battersea's personnel office indicates, my wage loss was $336 (24 hours at $14 per hour).
My medical expenses and lost wages come to $1,399. I seek full compensation for these losses.
I also seek recovery for my pain and suffering, emotional distress, and the loss of enjoyment of life I've experienced due to Mr. White's negligence. Because of his extreme carelessness and disregard for the safety of others, I am confident that an award of five times my medical expenses, or $5,315, is reasonable. (A multiplier of five times medical expenses is a reach in a case with minor injuries and low economic damages. Starting high with your opening settlement demand might make sense as a negotiating tactic. But don't push your luck and get greedy.)
My total damages are just over $6,700. I demand the sum of $6,700 to settle all my claims against Mr. White. If we are unable to reach a settlement and I am forced to file suit, my trial demand will be considerably higher. (The adjuster knows you'll ask for more at trial, but it never hurts to give a friendly reminder.)
This demand is an attempt to settle my claims against your insured. If I must file suit and the case goes to trial, evidence of this settlement offer will not be admissible at trial.
Please let me hear from you within 30 days from the date of this letter.
Very truly yours,
Oliver Simon Ball
This sample letter is an adaptation of an excerpt from How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim by Attorney Joseph Matthews (Nolo). See more sample personal injury demand letters. And if you're ready to put your case in more experienced hands, find out what to expect from a car accident lawyer.