After suffering an injury, it might be necessary to file a claim against the responsible party in order to collect damages. Before taking a personal injury lawsuit to court, your attorney may recommend sending a payment demand letter. What is this letter, and why is it important? Here’s what you need to know.
What is a Payment Demand Letter?
A payment demand letter is exactly what it sounds like – a letter demanding payment for damages incurred. It is usually the last step taken before filing a personal injury lawsuit, and may even be required in some instances. The demand letter serves a purpose in that it lets the responsible party know you are serious about collecting damages, and puts him or her on notice that you plan to take action if the problem is not resolved.
In about 1/3 of all personal injury cases, a payment demand letter results in an out-of-court settlement. As such, you could potentially save yourself a great deal of time and money litigating a case by resolving the issue up front.
What it Contains
There are several vital components to a payment demand letter, including:
- A brief narrative that describes the events leading to the injury. It is extremely important to be accurate here, as the information you provide could later be used to draft court pleadings.
- A full account of the expenses you have incurred as a result of your injury. Include receipts and statements if possible.
- The names and addresses of potential witnesses
- Specific information about what you desire the outcome to be. This includes asking for a specific sum of money or requesting the recipient perform certain actions in order to make you whole again.
In the closing paragraph, you should set a date for the other party to take action. Make it clear that if you are not fairly compensated by this date, you will immediately file a personal injury lawsuit. Many times, just knowing this is enough to jar the perpetrator into taking action. Allow a reasonable amount of time for a response, as making a settlement is not something most people want to do when they are pressured.
Style and Tone
Your letter should be drafted and signed by your attorney, be written on plain bond paper, and contain the letterhead of the law firm representing you. It will also contain a certificate of service, which is a paragraph that states the date, time and manner that the document was delivered to the other party.
It’s important to keep a professional tone when drafting a payment demand letter, as using inflammatory or abusive language is unlikely to garner you results. You should also proofread your letter carefully to make sure there are no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors as well.
Drafting a payment demand letter may seem like an unnecessary step to take, but it actually benefits you in more ways than one. It is an important part of the legal process that could allow you to obtain closure and ease your suffering considerably.
Your personal injury attorney will likely draft this letter and be responsible to delivering it to the defendant. Do not skip this important step, as it may save you from going to court to obtain compensation for injuries and damages.