A demand letter to an insurance company is often the first step toward initiating or litigating a case after an accident or personal injury in Nevada.
A good way to think of an insurance company demand letter is to think of it as an opening argument in a court case. Matters a well-written demand letter will highlight include:
- How the accident or incident happened,
- The plaintiff’s injuries,
- The damages the plaintiff has incurred and will in the future incur; and
- Why the defendant is responsible.
Most people prefer to have an attorney write a demand letter on their behalf. An experienced lawyer is best situated to know what details to include and, just as importantly, what to omit.
To help you better understand how to write a demand letter, our Nevada personal injury lawyers discuss, below:
- 1. Why is a demand letter important in a Nevada injury case?
- 2. What is the purpose of a demand letter?
- 3. What information should be included?
- 4. Should I ask for a specific dollar amount?
- 5. Do I need a lawyer to write a demand letter for me?
You have probably heard the adage that you only get one chance to make a first impression.
The demand letter is usually the first impression an insurer will get about your case after a Nevada accident or injury. A well-written demand letter gets the adjuster’s attention and tells the insurer you are serious about pursuing your right to compensation.
Taking the time to write a strong demand letter is a good investment. It is your best chance of getting compensation in a Nevada injury case without having to go to trial and spend money on attorney’s fees. And if you do end up going to trial, a well-written demand letter will protect you against statements that you later have to explain away.1
Settlement negotiations with the insurance adjuster will revolve around the information set forth in the demand letter.
The purpose of a demand letter to an insurer in a Nevada injury case, therefore, is to explain to the adjuster:
- The facts of the accident or incident;
- The extent of the plaintiff’s injuries; and
- Why the defendant is responsible for those injuries.2
A well-written demand letter to an insurer does not need to take up pages and pages. Nevertheless, it must make a strong case for both the defendant’s liability and the extent of a plaintiff’s injuries.
The demand letter should, therefore, include:
- A detailed explanation of the facts of the accident or incident, including:
- Where and when the incident happened,
- The parties involved,
- How it happened, and
- The injuries the plaintiff sustained;
- Test results that make such injuries obvious, such as x-rays or MRIs;
- Photos and/or videos of the accident scene and any property damage or physical injuries sustained by the plaintiff;
- A summary of economic damages the plaintiff has incurred and is expected to incur in the future, including:
- Amounts paid to date for medical bills, tests and therapy,
- A doctor’s, therapist’s or expert’s estimate and recommendations of future needed medical care and/or therapy,
- Car repair bills or other property damage bills or estimates,
- Lost wages to date, and
- Estimates of future lost earning capacity (with an opinion letter from an economic expert, if appropriate); and
- An explanation of the plaintiff’s non-economic damages, including,
- Photos of scars,
- A doctor’s explanation of post and future scarring or loss of physical function,
- Therapists’ statements of treatments the plaintiff has had to endure,
- Statements of family, friends and/or co-workers about activities the plaintiff can no longer engaged in, and
- Anything else that explains the past and anticipated future pain and suffering of the plaintiff.3
In most cases, a demand letter should not ask for a specific dollar amount to settle a case. It is generally more advantageous to try to get the insurer to make an offer first. Asking for a fixed number sets an upper limit for the negotiation. It can be hard to get this number increased should additional damages be discovered later.
The one time it makes sense to request a specific amount is when you are seeking the maximum amount payable under a policy of insurance and you are certain that amount is in the right ballpark.
If you do not know the policy limits, or you are unsure of how much to ask for, it is usually best to let the insurer make the first offer.4
There is no way to overstate the importance of the demand letter.
However, a well-written demand letter can mean the difference between a quick and generous settlement and protracted negotiations – or worse, getting entirely ignored.
An experienced Nevada personal injury attorney will know what facts and documents to include with the initial demand.
Just as importantly, your Las Vegas injury lawyer will know what not to say. Anything you say in a demand letter can be used against you later should your case go to trial.
5.1. Small Claims
Even in a small claims case, we strongly advise you consult with an attorney to craft your demand letter and discuss the procedures you need to go through:
- sending the demand letter certified mail, return receipt requested
- filing a small claims complaint at the court clerk’s office with the filing fee (if the case remains unresolved)
- hiring a process server to serve a copy of the demand letter on the defendant and obtain proof of service
- serving a subpoena on witnesses to appear at the hearing date (if necessary)
- answering any counterclaims
- appearing at the court date on your behalf5
Injured in Las Vegas? Call us for help…
For legal advice, contact our Nevada law firm through our contact form or phone number. We practice throughout the state, from Reno to Las Vegas, NV.
The statute of limitations to file a lawsuit in the state of Nevada can be as short as two (2) years, so contact us right away to start working on your case.
- Small Claims Court – Las Vegas Justice Court
- Civil Law Self-Help Center Small Claims Forms – small claims complaint, etc.
- Eighth Judicial District Court’s Civil-Criminal-Library – forms for affidavits, forma pauperis, etc.
- Clark County Law Library