How to Write a Massachusetts Personal Injury Demand Letter

I have posted on this topic before but since it is such an integral facet of Massachusetts personal injury law, I feel it is worthy of a re-post. 

The majority of Massachusetts car accident claims, slip and fall claims, and nearly all other personal injury claims, are usually best handled by an attorney.  But, if you have been involved in a minor Massachusetts personal injury accident (less than, say, $1000.00 in medical bills), you may wish to handle your case on your own without a lawyer.  In that event, you will need to know how to write an effective demand letter to the insurance company.  I found the following on the NOLO web site which deftly describes the elements of a winning demand letter:

What to Emphasize in Your Demand Letter

Before beginning to write your demand letter, review your notes from the days and weeks following the accident to remind yourself of the details — your pain, discomfort, inconvenience, disruption of life, and medical treatments.  Then concentrate on the following elements as you draft your letter.

Liability

Start by describing how the accident happened and why the insured person was at fault. In plain language, briefly describe where you were and what you were doing immediately before the accident, then how the accident occurred.

You should also mention any outside support you have for your theory — such as a police report, building code section, or eyewitnesses’ statements.

Comparative Negligence

In many accidents, there is some question about whether your own carelessness contributed to the accident even though the other person was primarily at fault. Raise this issue in your demand letter by denying that you were at all at fault.

Even if you believe that you might have been partly at fault for the accident, do not admit any fault in your demand letter. Although you must consider your own carelessness in deciding what a fair settlement is, it is not your job to make comparative negligence arguments for the insurance company. If and when an insurance adjuster brings up the subject during settlement negotiations, you can debate the question then.

Your Injuries and Treatment

Describe your injuries and treatments — and don’t be shy. Emphasize your pain, the length and difficulty of your recovery, the negative effects of your injuries on your daily life, and any long-term or permanent injury — especially if it is disabling or disfiguring, such as permanent stiffness, soreness, or scarring.

Of course, you shouldn’t make things up or be overly dramatic. Insurance companies will turn a deaf ear to claims they believe are false. Use appropriate medical terms wherever possible — for example, "narrowing of disk spacing" rather than "strained back."

Medical Expenses

Include a complete list of each medical provider who treated you and the total amount charged by each.

Lost Income

Make a brief statement of the amount of time you missed from work because of your injuries, and refer to whatever letter you have from your employer verifying your pay and missed time. If you are irregularly or self-employed, explain how you arrived at the total figure for lost income.

Other Losses

If you suffered extra or unusual discomforts, embarrassments, inconvenience, or losses as a result of your injuries, mention them in your demand letter.

Your Settlement Demand Figure

In the last paragraph of your letter, demand a specific sum of money as total compensation for your pain, suffering, lost income, and other losses.  Set out a figure that is higher than what you think your claim is actually worth (a general rule is 75% to 100% higher than what you would be satisfied with); this allows you some room to negotiate with the insurance adjuster.

Attach Supporting Documents

Along with your demand letter, send the insurance company copies of documents, records, letters, bills or other writings supporting the things you describe in your letter. (Keep all originals for your own files.)

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