The pen is the tongue of the mind.Horace
Here are ten suggestions in writing a demand letter in California.
First, don’t call it a demand letter. It’s a settlement letter. Words matter. Most people don’t like “demands” and being told what to do. Pay attention to how you frame the letter. Call it a settlement letter, not a demand letter.
Second, understand your audience. This is key for all good communication. Who are you writing to? Is it a neighbor, a business, an insurance company? Are they under any constraints? Are there language barriers? Are you communicating with the right person?
Third, understand your purpose. The purpose of settlement letters is to settle a claim. Keep that purpose upmost in your mind. Why attack the recipient and say things that are not helpful? Your purpose should be to settle, not bash the person.
Fourth, calmly lay out the facts. Give the date and location of the incident and explain what happened. Most claims involve liability and damages, so have a section for each. Explain why the person is responsible for what happened. Then list your injuries and explain the how your life has changed. Give anecdotes, something concrete.
Fifth, attach documents. You’d want to include the police report, medical records, medical bills, photos, etc. Photos of your injuries can be powerful.
Sixth, include video if you can. I like to visit the scene of an incident and film it. I try to recreate the scene. For example, for a car crash case, I’ll drive the same route as my client and as the defendant. I’ll film as I’m driving. There a lots of websites that let you upload the videos and create a link which you can add to the settlement letter.
Seventh, discuss the law. Look at CACI, the California civil jury instructions. Find the applicable causes of action and read the relevant CACI. Read to the excerpts from case law.
Eighth, include demonstratives. That’s a fancy term for illustrations, animations, or representations that “demonstrate” some part of the incident or damages. I include illustrations of injuries and procedures my clients have had. Sometimes I create basic graphic art to argue a point. Be creative.
Ninth, know about the new law on time-limited demands. Here’s a post: https://www.evanwalkerlaw.com/blog/what-are-california-time-limited-demands/
Tenth, if you want to “pop” the policy, it’s best to speak with an attorney. It’s easier said than done, and there are traps for the unwary.
Questions?! Contact Me for a free consultation.