Below is an example settlement demand letter we wrote in a truck accident case we ultimately settled.
Sometimes, the demand letter is the linchpin that resolves the claim. In others, it is a useless appendage that sits atop a pile of medical records and bills.
Either way, you must write the demand package like the case depends on it. Measure twice and cut once: you can make many mistakes in putting these letters together. You will have a hard time backing away from any position you take in the demand package for settlement purposes as the case progresses.
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- How much should you ask for: get an idea of the actual value of your claim
- Should you write a long, detailed demand package?
Sample Demand Letter
Mr. David Greenly
7849 Belle Point Drive
Greenbelt, Maryland 20770
Re: David v. Patrick, et al.
Case No. 24-C-08-080463
You have asked for a formal demand in David v. Patrick before trial.
As we discussed, this is a very serious injury case. The defendant’s tractor-trailer hit Mr. David on March 14, 2022. As a result of the accident, he sustained permanent neck and back spinal injuries. He had surgery on his back and needs surgery on his neck. Mr. David has been unable to work since the accident and has been declared completely disabled by his physicians and is not cleared to work. To date, Mr. David has suffered $4,016,586.26 in special damages. They are itemized as follows:
|Past Medical Expenses:||$ 465,459.54|
|Future Medical Expenses:||$ 30,000.00|
|Past Lost Wages:||$ 255,280.72|
|Future Loss of Earnings:||$ 1,763,855.00|
|Future Loss of Benefits:||$ 649,991.00|
|Pain and Suffering:||$ 890,000.00 (2022 cap)|
|Total Special Damages:||$4,016,586.26|
Practice Tip: Settlement Letters
The length and detail of your settlement demand letter should be proportionate to the size of the case. This case settled for well over $1 million. A detailed letter is warranted in a case like this. If you send a similar-sized letter in a small case involving resolved injuries, you are telling the insurance adjuster in your demand that you do not know what you are doing.
As of March 12, 2022, Clarance David was employed by the federal government as a surveyor. He was a civilian but worked for the Department of Housing and Public Works at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. He worked for this military branch for many years and worked his way up the ladder.
At the time of the collision, he was earning $68,426 a year in salary and had a host of benefits from the federal government. No one will dispute this man is a hard worker, and there is no suggestion that he had health problems at all at the time of the crash. He did have a prior L4-L5 lumbar discectomy in 1989 and had a complete recovery. He could return to work after his prior back surgery and required no medical care for a decade before his accident in 2018. There is no evidence of any prior problems with his neck preceding the 2018 accident.
Facts Of The Accident
On March 12, 2022, Plaintiff was a passenger in a vehicle being driven by a co-worker. They were traveling northbound on Interstate 95, approaching the Harbor Tunnel in Baltimore, Maryland. At the same time, Defendant Pakacki was operating a tractor-trailer northbound on Interstate 95 directly behind the vehicle in which Plaintiff was a passenger. The tractor-trailer crashed into the back of the vehicle occupied by the Plaintiff and forced that vehicle into a vehicle directly in front of him. Immediately after the accident, Defendant Pakacki stated a crowbar rolled underneath his brake pedal, and he could not apply the brakes.
However, Defendant Patrick’s Answers indicate that he was cut off by a Phantom Vehicle going from one lane to another, which caused the accident. We understand that Defendant Pakacki has not been located since his deposition and would probably not be available to testify at the trial of this matter. As you know, we do not have photos of the vehicle in which our client was a passenger, but we do have pictures of the car in front of our vehicle, which are attached as Exhibit “A” to this settlement demand package.
You have contested liability vigorously during discovery, but we do not believe there is a meaningful dispute and, as we discussed, will not address the issue at length in this demand package. Frankly, we do not think you will contest liability at trial. In fact, we hope you do.
Plaintiff’s Claim for Damages
As of June 4, 2023, Plaintiff’s past medical bills were $65,459.54. He has been in active treatment since then; however, we do not have the updated medical bills for his most recent visits. See Plaintiff’s Medical Provider Index, attached as Exhibit “B.” Plaintiff David underwent an IME with Dr. Serman on April 23, 2023. Dr. Shuey’s report is attached hereto as Exhibit “C.”
The Defendant’s own expert states:
It is my opinion within a reasonable degree of medical probability that Mr. David sustained a traumatic nerve root impingement syndrome cervical spine injury as a result of the March 12, 2022 injury. As well, it is my opinion to a reasonable degree of medical probability that Mr. David sustained lumbar spine injury to his L4-L5 segment, causing him to have subsequent surgery to repair an L4-L5 lumbar decompression and fusion.
More importantly, your expert also opined that he believes Mr. David would be unable to return to his former employment. Dr. Serman contends that Mr. David is a candidate for cervical spine surgery, including cervical laminectomy or cervical discectomy and fusion. Dr. Serman does not challenge the fairness, reasonableness, or causal relationship of Mr. David’s past medical treatment or medical bills. So we agree on this crucial issue.
Dr. Serman believes for his future cervical surgery to be $30,000. This estimate does not include any additional future medical care Mr. David would need throughout the rest of his life; however, that future amount would be secured from Plaintiff’s experts before trial in this case and presented to a jury. According to the life tables, Mr. David is expected to live for another.
29.6 years. (See attached as Exhibit “D” to this demand correspondence.) Dr. Cammissa, Plaintiff’s treating physician, will opine that Mr. David would reasonably expect to incur additional medical expenses over those 29.6 years due to this accident.
As a result of the severe injuries to Plaintiff David’s neck and back, he has been unable to return to work since the March 12, 2022, truck accident, and according to Dr. Cammissa, he is permanently disabled as a direct result of this accident. To date, Plaintiff’s past lost wages are $255,280.72. (We have cut wages off on January 1, 2023, for this demand letter.) The plaintiff was earning $68,426 a year at the time of the accident and has been entirely disabled because of the accident for the last 194 weeks and does not expect that he can return to any type of gainful employment.
As a direct result of this accident, Mr. David was terminated from his employment and had a future loss of earning capacity claim and a loss of benefits claim. The present-day value of his loss of earning capacity is $1,763,855. This is a conservative estimate, as the expert report indicates, attached as Exhibit “E” to this settlement letter. The plaintiff’s loss of benefits is $649,998. If you have not already done so, I would really encourage you to run these numbers by an economist. We requested that our economist make these estimates as conservative as possible.
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As of the date of this crash, the cap on pain and suffering in Maryland was $860,000. Due to the devastating effect of this accident on Plaintiff’s body, life, and career, we believe that this case’s pain and suffering warrants an evaluation equal to the cap at trial and at the settlement table.
The available policy limits for this loss is $4,000,000. A portion of that policy has been paid out to other injured persons due to this accident. My understanding is that the policy has been depleted to $2,816,114. (See attached to this demand package as Exhibit “F” correspondence from defense counsel indicating the remaining limits available.)
Given the clear liability and undisputed permanent injuries in this case, we recommend that our client accept the balance of the available policy of $3,816,114 to resolve this case out-of-court. Our demand is $3.75 million.
While we would be willing to reach an agreement on these terms, we are fully prepared for our upcoming trial. If this case goes to trial, we will obviously seek a recovery well in excess of the policy limits. Let me know how you would like to proceed.
Ronald V. Miller, Jr.
What Is the Purpose of a Personal Injury Demand Letter?
A personal injury demand letter is the launching point for settlement negotiations for compensation for the harm caused by injuries or the death of a loved one. The hope is to get a good settlement amount without filing a lawsuit.
How Do You Write a Demand Letter?
Writing a demand letter is an art form. Here are our ten tips for writing a quality demand letter:
- DON’T Write War and Peace
- DO Highlight Unique Facts About Your Case
- DON’T Send the Demand by Certified Mail
- DO Differentiate Your Case
- DON’T Make a Specific Settlement Demand
- DO Demand Policy Limits
- DON’T Go Over-the-Top
- DO Make Clear the Case Will Not Settle Unless…
- DON’T Set a Time Limit on a Response Unless You Mean It
- DO Include All of Your Damages
How Long After a Demand Letter Does Settlement Take?
Our lawyers take a few days to read the medical records and write a demand letter in our average case. The time to write a bodily injury demand letter depends on the case’s complexity. After the demand letter is written, the insurance company takes 20-60 days to respond. Where in that range you fall depends on the insurance company and the severity of the victim’s injuries.
How Much Should I Ask for in a Demand Letter?
Our lawyers do not make a demand in most personal injury cases unless we are demanding either the most a jury could award in the case or the insurance policy limits. Otherwise, in most cases, our attorneys let the insurance companies go first. This is particularly a good idea if you do not truly understand the settlement value of your case.
Do not forget to claim all of your damages. In most personal injury cases, there are three elements: past and future medical bills (usually even if they were paid by insurance), past and future lost wages, and pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages substantially eclipse your lost wages and medical bills in most cases.
How Do You Start a Demand Letter?
In most demand letters our lawyers write, we first lay out the itemized medical bills and economic losses. Then, we explain the negligence of the defendant. Most of the rest of the letter is spent laying out the injuries and the damages and how the harm to the plaintiff impacted her life.
What If You Don’t Get a Response to Your Demand Letter?
If you send a demand letter to an insurer or a large company and do not get a response, something is probably wrong. These companies have systems in place to respond to a demand letter. So first make sure the correspondence was received. But, ultimately, the response to a failure to respond to a demand letter is a lawsuit.
How Can I Get My Hands on a Sample Demand Letter?
You can find a sample demand letter above these questions. But our law firm provides sample demand letters for most personal injury, medical malpractice, and motor vehicle accident cases.
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