"Drafting an effective demand letter is critical to almost any civil case. It introduces you and your client to the other party and their representative, who may be an attorney, an insurance adjuster, or risk management. This first impression will speak volumes about how they should evaluate you, your client, and your client's case. The letter also sets the tone for settlement negotiations...It is...important to place your client in a position of bargaining strength. Having a well-written, effective demand letter will help you do just that. Finally, the demand letter helps the adjuster set their reserves...Gather all pertinent documents relevant to your client's case at the outset of the case...The nature of the case will dictate what documentation is needed. It will be impossible to write an effective demand letter without all of the information, so obtaining copies of documents as soon as possible is key. It is preferable to send a complete demand letter with all of the documentation, rather than sending items piecemeal. Overworked adjusters may not get everything if it comes in at different times; papers get lost or misplaced. This can lead to a delay in the handling of the case or an incorrect evaluation of the case, if key information is missing. The caveat to that general rule is where treatment is protracted for some reason in a personal injury case. In that case, it may be necessary to provide the adjuster with periodic updates, and advise that additional information will be provided as treatment progresses. However, even in that scenario, providing as much updated information at once is advisable, so that the adjuster can set reserves...[I]t is critical to send the demand letter in a timely manner, i.e., as soon as possible. It will convey that you are on top of the case, and it will assist the adjuster in setting reserves. If for some reason your letter is being held up because you are waiting on documentation, communicate that to the adjuster, so they can note their file accordingly...[I]f your case involves protracted treatment, provide periodic updates, and advise that additional information will be provided when it becomes available...On all your communication, include in the reference section at the beginning of your letter the following: your client's name, their client's name, the date of the incident, the claim number[,] and the policy number, as appropriate. If a lawsuit has already been filed, also include the name of the case, the county in which the matter was filed[,] and the court case number. Attorneys, adjusters, and insurance companies deal with many cases, and you want to make it as easy as possible for them to easily route your correspondence to the appropriate person...[A]ppropriate professional language and tone should be used. Overly emotional or threatening language should be avoided...Within the body of the demand letter, using subheadings will help the reader easily navigate through each topic...Subheading titles can be adjusted depending on the type of case and the type of damages incurred...Including very specific facts, particularly with regard to the summary of facts, medical treatment, and general damages, is advised. Having specific facts will assist the adjuster in properly evaluating the case. Refer to the record in which the fact can be found, which should be attached as an exhibit and the exhibit number or letter...[D]escribing specific difficulties that your client faced will make the amorphous concept of pain and suffering more tangible...Include a section for 'Itemization of Damages' at the end of the letter that sets forth each category of damages, the amount, and then shows the total amount. Restate the final demand in bold in the final paragraph so that it is very clear...Language such as 'this offer will remain open for 30 days' should be included at the end of the letter, so that the other side has a clear deadline...All of the records to which you refer in your demand letter should be attached as exhibits, and should be organized chronologically. Use colored paper and tabs to separate exhibits to make it as easy as possible to find a document...Some people advise sending a demand letter by registered mail. As an attorney, this is probably not generally necessary since you keep copies of everything sent in your files, unless the demand letter also includes a demand for arbitration pursuant to an insurance policy or contract, in which case sending by registered mail may be required. However, in this digital age, it may be beneficial to send the demand letter by email as well as mail. More and more companies are scanning in correspondence and then routing it to their adjusters anyway, so it may make their job easier to receive a scanned copy directly from you...The process of drafting the demand letter will also be beneficial to you as the attorney. It is an opportunity to become well-versed in every detail of the case...If the case does not settle, preparing discovery and/or an arbitration or mediation brief will also be a far easier task."
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