Below is an example of a demand letter that might be sent to kick off settlement negotiations in a car accident claim. The victim in this case (the sender of the demand letter) suffered significant injuries and underwent extensive physical therapy, plus missed five days of work.
Check out this overview page on writing a car accident demand letter to learn more about how they are used during the car accident claim negotiation.
This sample letter is not a replacement for qualified legal advice - it is for instructional purposes only. Always talk to a lawyer before making any written statements following an accident.
Example Demand Letter
812 Octavia Street, Apt. #4
Chicago, IL 00000
June 30, 20xx
High Life Insurance Company
1000 Throughway Boulevard
Chicago, IL 00000
Re: Your Insured, Anthony Stacatto
Claimant: Mary Graham
Claim No.: 93-8822 TX
Date of Loss: January 13, 20xx
Dear Mr. Salinas:
As you are aware, I was injured in an automobile accident with your insured Anthony Stacatto on January 13, 20xx at the intersection of 12th Street and Loop Lane, Chicago. I was traveling east on Loop Lane, and as I entered the intersection with 12th Street, your insured came through a stop sign on 12th Street and smashed into my car just behind the driver’s seat, barely missing a direct hit on me. [NOTE: Even though a direct hit on Mary did not occur, the near miss increases the sense of emotional trauma Mary suffered.] The power of the collision spun my car all the way around and left it facing west almost all the way to the curb. [NOTE: The power of the impact shows how fast the other driver was going, which supports both how negligent he was and how seriously Mary is injured.] I have enclosed the police report, which states that I had the right of way, and a diagram that shows where your insured struck my car and the final resting place of the car. The enclosed photograph showing the severe damage to my car indicates how strong the collision was.
In addition to failing to yield the right of way, your insured did not even slow down, let alone stop, at the stop sign. This was apparently due to the fact that your insured was talking on a cell phone. A witness to the accident reported this fact. As you know, if this matter ultimately becomes a lawsuit, I will have access to your insured’s cell phone records. As you may be aware, the use of a cell phone while driving quadruples the risk of an accident, making it as dangerous as driving while drunk. (See the study by the University of Toronto in the February 13, 1997, New England Journal of Medicine.) This selfish and dangerous conduct by your insured led directly to this serious accident. [NOTE: Emphasizes how bad the other driver would look to a jury if the case ever went to court.]
I was badly battered by the collision and was taken by ambulance to the emergency room of Providence Hospital. Immediately after the accident, I had severe pain and stiffness in my back and a headache that was rapidly getting worse. After X-rays, I was released and advised to see my private physician. During the night, my headache became more severe and I was unable to move my back. First thing in the morning I was taken to my personal physician, Ann Lindley, M.D., who referred me to an orthopedist, Martin Chuzzlewit, M.D. Dr. Chuzzlewit examined me and discovered an inflammation of the lumbar spine. He prescribed pain and muscle relaxant medication, advised immediate bed rest, and referred me to physical therapy. [NOTE: It is important to point out that the orthopedist referred Mary to physical therapy, showing that she did not decide to go on her own. In the mind of an insurance adjuster, that makes the physical therapy treatments more medically legitimate.]
I was forced by the pain to remain in bed for the next four days. I attempted to return to work the following Monday, but the pain once again forced me to bed for another two days. [NOTE: Good to mention that Mary tried to return to work; it shows that she was not just using her injury as an excuse for a holiday.] I began physical therapy at the Bendright Clinic. I continued in physical therapy for five weeks, during which I remained in considerable pain and discomfort. After completing the physical therapy, I returned for an examination by Dr. Chuzzlewit, who advised me that I would have residual pain and stiffness for another few months. [NOTE: The doctor confirms long period of recovery.]
The medical specials for my treatment are as follows:
A-One Ambulance Co. $250
Providence Hospital $460
Ann Lindley, M.D. $260
Martin Chuzzlewit, M.D. $1,110
Loop Radiology Group $280
Bendright Physical Therapy $840
Prescription medication $70
TOTAL ************ $3,270
As a result of the accident, I missed a total of five days of work as a teacher at Grover Cleveland High School. My monthly gross salary is $2,300, and the number of school days in January were 21, so per diem pay for January was $110. In total, I lost $550 in wages.
Because of the unlawful and dangerous driving [NOTE: reminding the insurance company that the insured’s driving would look very bad if the claim ever made it to court] of your insured, I suffered excruciating back pain requiring some five weeks of physical therapy. The pain has taken months to subside. I continue to suffer occasional pain and stiffness now, some six months after the accident. Also, the trauma of so narrowly missing a direct hit by your insured’s car has made me fearful of driving and causes me daily anxiety when I have to drive anywhere. [NOTE: Driving is an important part of most people’s lives, and being afraid to get in a car may raise the value of the claim.] To compensate me for the severity of the shock, the long period of treatment, and the continuing pain and discomfort I suffer, I demand the sum of $18,500.
I look forward to your prompt reply on this matter.
If your injuries are more modest (like bruises, scratches, mild whiplash, and other soft tissue injuries), see this sample demand letter for minor injuries. For more examples, see our sample personal injury demand letters.
To get a better understanding of the damages you should be compensated for, see Damages in a Personal Injury Claim.
Think you need professional help? Find out what to expect from a car accident lawyer.
This sample letter is an excerpt from How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim by Attorney Joseph Matthews (Nolo).