Here is a demand letter sent in an injury case where the accident was caused by the reckless behavior of employees of the insured (a mortgage company). In this incident, the victim suffered mouth injuries and dental complications after being struck in the face by a softball.
Be sure to check the section titled "Issues Affecting a Settlement Amount" (below the sample letter) to understand the key factors in a case like this.
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
24 Park Place
Seattle, WA 00000
October 15, 20xx
All-Safe Insurance Company
3400 Salmon Boulevard
Seattle, WA 00000
Re: Your Insured, Gorgon Mortgage Company
Claimant: Yolanda Mercurio
Claim No.: 4876-93
Date of Loss: June 13, 20xx
Dear Mr. Chen:
This letter constitutes a demand for compensation from your insured, the Gorgon Mortgage Company, for serious and permanent injuries I sustained on June 13, 20xx as a result of the reckless behavior of employees of the Gorgon Mortgage Company committed on Gorgon property. [NOTE: "Reckless" behavior sounds worse than "careless" behavior.]
On that date at about 1:45 p.m., I had just parked my car in the outdoor parking lot of the Soundbite Shopping Center and had stepped out of the car when I was struck in the mouth by a softball. The softball came from property owned by your insured. It was thrown or batted by employees of your insured during practice of a softball team sponsored by your insured. Because your insured provided a place on its property for its employees to practice softball in a dangerous spot next to a public parking lot, your insured is liable for the consequences.
In addition, your insured is legally responsible for the actions of its employees, who were practicing during the workday with the permission of your insured. [NOTE: These are the reasons why the employer is liable for the acts of the employees even though the accident occurred as the result of activity not normally associated with their work.]
When it hit me, the softball was traveling with tremendous velocity. Indeed, it had travelled a full 30 or 40 yards before slamming into my face. The force of the blow directly on my mouth broke my front tooth and drove the broken tooth through my upper lip. (NOTE: A graphic description of a nasty injury.) I was knocked to the ground in terrible pain. There was a tremendous amount of blood. A colleague drove me to the hospital emergency room. To close the wound, hospital attendants had to put stitches both in the inside and on the outside of my lip. The enclosed photographs were taken the day after the accident and show the broken tooth, the wound, and the tremendous swelling. (NOTE: A picture of the unsightly injury can be very effective.)
The stitches in my lip were removed by my own doctor after a week, but as the enclosed photograph shows, the wound has left a scar on the outside of my upper lip. My doctor says that although it will reduce somewhat over time, a scar will remain permanently visible. (NOTE: Emphasis on the permanent nature of the injury.)
My broken tooth was treated by my dentist until the lip wound healed, and then a cap was fitted over the tooth. The cap is uncomfortable, and it has affected what I can eat because of my concern for biting into anything hard. Also, it is obvious that the cap is not a real tooth. Because the cap is on my front tooth, the way it looks causes me considerable embarrassment. Every time I start to smile I become self-conscious, thinking about my false tooth as well as my scar. (NOTE: Emphasis on the emotional distress caused by the injury.)
The problem with the false tooth will only get worse over time. It will discolor differently from the normal teeth around it and will have to be replaced at regular intervals for the rest of my life. Also, because it is fit over my broken tooth, there is the potential for movement, gum disease, and other future dental problems that can prove painful, inconvenient, disfiguring, and expensive. That means several future dental bills of around $1,000 each, in current dollars. (NOTE: Discussion of future problems suggests to insurance adjuster that claim should be settled sooner rather than later when such long-term problems might actually start to appear.)
The medical expenses for the treatment of my lip and my tooth, so far, are: (NOTE: The words "so far" remind the adjuster that if the claim is not settled soon, more medical bills might have to be put into the formula.)
Puget Sound Medical Center ER $750
Fiona Brown, M.D. $2,400
Elton Limpet, D.D.S. $520
TOTAL ************** $3,670
My injuries also caused me to lose time from work. I am a self-employed graphic artist. For the three months immediately prior to my accident I averaged income of $2,204 per month, as my enclosed billing records indicate. As a result of the accident, I lost a day and a half of work right after the accident, plus another day and a half during medical treatments, for a total of three days. At $105 per day ($2,204 per month divided by 21 work days per month) my income loss for those three days was approximately $315. (NOTE: Includes explanation of how self-employment income loss was calculated.)
Because I was unable to go on any job interviews until my mouth had healed and my tooth was fixed, my income for the following two months dropped to an average of only $850 per month -- an additional $2,700 in income loss as a result of the accident.
Through the irresponsible actions of your insured and its employees, I have suffered a painful injury that has left a permanent scar on my face and a permanently disfigured and unstable front tooth. Because of the visibility and permanence of the injuries, and the inevitable future work on the tooth, I demand the sum of $50,000 in compensation.
Please respond to this letter by November 15, 20xx. I look forward to hearing from you.
Issues Affecting a Settlement Amount
- Employer/Employee Liability - Clearly explaining why the business (and it's liability insurance policy) must pay for the injuries caused by employees helps to make the demand strong.
- Long-Term Injury/Recovery - Long-term or permanent injuries greatly increase the settlement value, but can be more difficult to negotiate.
- Establishment of Pain Involved - A clear explanation of the pain the plaintiff lives with goes a long way in getting more money in a settlement.
- Emotional Injuries - While putting a dollar value the emotional impact can be difficult, expressing it in your demand adds to the overall toll the injury has taken.
For more examples, see our sample personal injury demand letters.
This sample letter is an excerpt from How to Win Your Personal Injury Claim by Attorney Joseph Matthews (Nolo).