What is a Demand Letter?

November 14, 2022

The vast majority of personal injury claims in West Virginia are resolved through settlements with insurance carriers, and one of the first parts of this process is sending a demand letter to the alleged negligent party. Here, we want to explain the importance of a demand letter, talk about why a personal injury attorney should draft this letter on your behalf, and the possible responses that may come back from the other party.

What Will be Included in a Demand Letter?

Demand letters sent after a West Virginia personal injury occurs are a preliminary action taken to try and resolve the incident before filing a civil personal injury lawsuit. We encourage injury victims to work with a skilled lawyer who has experience drafting strong and succinct demand letters.

They are going to be several parts to a demand letter that must be included. This includes:

  1. Establishing facts. Never assume that the reader knows all of the facts related to the case. When you write your letter, write down your version of the facts in a way that the document sets forth the main dispute at hand. This should provide enough context for individuals unfamiliar with the situation to understand the incident. The facts should include any attempts you have made to resolve the dispute.
  2. Referencing evidence. If there is specific evidence related to the incident that you can put forward, refer to that and then attach it to the demand letter. This can include photographs, references to video files, contracts, medical bills, and more.
  3. Making the demand. You will obviously make a demand for compensation in the demand letter. You need to be very specific about what you are seeking, which includes breaking down the types of compensation as specifically as possible. We encourage you to work with an attorney to fully understand the types of economic and non-economic compensation you should be entitled to.
  4. Setting a deadline and establishing payment methods. You need to set a reasonable deadline for when you expect the money to be paid and then establish a way for the other party to make the payment if they choose to do so.
  5. Establishing a consequence. Finally, you will need to refer to some sort of consequences that will occur if the other party fails to pay by the deadline. Most commonly, this will be a subtle reference to a forthcoming personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party.

Why an Attorney is Important?

Demand letters should be written professionally and by an individual who has experience handling these situations. If the other party receives a letter that is written clearly and in a way that other legal teams “understand,” they will be more likely to respond in the way you want. However, there is no guarantee that the other party will simply pay the demand. In fact, it is unlikely that they will do that.

How Will the Other Party Respond?

The other parties involved can respond in a few ways:

  • Accept. The other party could simply accept the demand and pay the amount requested. This is unlikely to occur.
  • Offer less. The other party could offer a lower amount of compensation, which is the more likely event. This is where negotiations will take over to reach a fair amount.
  • Reject. The other party could reject the demand altogether, in which case the injury victim will need to file a personal injury lawsuit to move forward with the claim.

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