California Personal Injury Law: What Is a Demand Letter?

February 23, 2018

An important part of any lawsuit is specifying the remedy being sought. In a personal injury claim, two of the important factors in every claim are the harm or injury that has been caused and the damages or reparations that are being requested. These two factors go into creating another important part of most personal injury lawsuits: the demand letter.

Important in All Cases

A demand letter (or demand package—in this post the terms are interchangeable) can be important in almost any kind of personal injury case. Whether the claim is centered on a slip-and-fall accident, a dog bite, or a car crash, the demand letter will serve a number of useful functions. For one thing, simply writing the letter will serve to collect all the details of your claim. It forces you, as the potential plaintiff, to specify exactly what wrong you’re seeking to right. The damage done, as well as the circumstances that caused it, will be outlined in your letter. It will also include the amount being sought to correct the harm that was done.

This is an excellent opportunity for you and your attorney to make sure that all your details are correct. Not only do you want to make sure that you can accurately describe what happened, but when you tally up the costs you seek to recover, you may discover that you’ve forgotten something.

Depending on who the letter is intended for, you may also need to include other information. When seeking compensation for an injury, for example, you might need copies of medical reports and receipts from treatment, in addition to those for related expenses such as transportation or a home health aide. This can begin to pile up (which is why calling it a “demand package” can be appropriate).


Why the Demand Letter Matters

A demand letter might seem like a formality, but it shows the other party that you’re serious about your claim. If the other party hasn’t been giving your claim the attention it deserves, the demand letter can be an effective wakeup call: Most cases settle before trial, but legal experts believe that about one-third of all civil disputes move to a settlement simply because of a demand letter.


Don’t Overstep

You’re legally entitled to make a demand for harm done to you, and it’s important to do so. However, California courts have ruled on more than one occasion that a demand letter has overstepped acceptable bounds and become an attempt at extortion. This happens not when a demand threatens legal action (which is often part of the demand process), but when a demand makes other threats that can be viewed as harassment, such as the filing of false criminal charges or the public release of potentially embarrassing materials unrelated to the case. A knowledgeable attorney will make sure that this kind of mistake doesn’t happen with your demand letter.


Orange County Personal Injury Lawyer

The experienced attorneys at Kohan & Bablove, Injury Attorneys have helped hundreds of clients navigate the sometimes complicated waters of personal injury claim filing. If you find yourself in a situation where pursuing a civil suit is a necessary step to correct a harm done to you, give us a call at 1-844-404-2400 or contact us online through the form below. We offer every client a free, no-obligation consultation to go over the specifics of his or her case and suggest how to move forward.