What is a Demand Letter?
One important part of the personal injury settlement process is called the demand letter. A demand letter is sent to the insurance carrier or other parties involved in an insurance claim or lawsuit to “demand” appropriate compensation for injuries and damages an at-fault party caused.
Some of the most common types of West Virginia personal injury cases that demand letters are used for include:
- Car accidents
- Truck accidents
- Uninsured motorists claims
- Industrial accidents
- Burn injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Mining explosion injuries
- Motorcycle accidents
- Nursing home negligence
- Boating accidents
- Defective product injuries
- Slip and fall accidents
- And more
What is included in a demand letter?
A demand letter should contain the following information in a clear and concise manner:
- Facts related to the incident that caused the injuries
- A brief description of how the incident happened
- Information about the extent of the injuries you have sustained
- Information regarding the medical treatment you have received
- Information about the ongoing treatment that will be required
- Copies of medical bills and statements attached
- A “demand” for a settlement that will cover your expenses
- A date that a response to the letter is expected by
- Concluding statement that a personal injury lawsuit will be forthcoming if a fair settlement it not offered
Do you need an attorney to draft a demand letter?
You are certainly allowed to draft a demand letter on your own. However, a West Virginia personal injury attorney will understand the process of drafting a well-written demand letter. While most people know how to write a letter, demand letters must contain certain items and be completely professional to add to their effectiveness.
If the amount in question for compensation is significant, you may wish to retain legal assistance to help you with the entire process of the claim, including the demand letter. These cases often require significant investigation and negotiations with all parties involved, particularly after a demand letter is sent. If the response you receive from the other party is not satisfactory, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit in order to obtain the compensation you are entitled to.
Can a person ignore a demand letter?
Demand letters usually come with a date that a reply is expected by, though a response is not legally required. However, a person is taking a risk by not responding to the demand letter because the injured party could file a personal injury lawsuit. When the lawsuit process has moved into the court system, the person accused of causing the injury has no way to stop it without participating in the proceedings. Responding to a demand letter could keep the matter out of the court system and save money.
How long does a settlement take?
There are no specific time frames when it comes to how long a settlement will take. If there are no disputes about the facts of the case, a settlement could come quicker. However, if the accused disagrees with the facts laid out in the demand letter, or if the other side wants to negotiate for a lower settlement, the case could take longer to settle.
If a personal injury case becomes a lawsuit, the process could take anywhere from several months to more than a year to resolve. The decision to settle out of court versus going to trial depends on many factors and should be made after consulting with a West Virginia personal injury lawyer.