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Personal Injury Claims in Iowa: A Guide to Demand Letters

Were you hurt in an accident in Iowa City? If so, you have the right to pursue financial compensation for the full value of your losses from the responsible party. Most personal injury cases are handled by insurance companies. The corporations are often well-resourced. However, unfortunately, getting a full and fair settlement offer from an insurer can be difficult.

A demand letter is one of the most effective tools for moving a personal injury claim forward. It can be used to persuasively lay out your case and kick off settlement negotiations. Within this article, our Iowa City personal injury attorney explains what demand letters are, how they can be used to help move your case forward, and offers some actionable tips for crafting one. 

What is a Personal Injury Demand Letter?

A demand letter is a tool that can be used to help resolve a legal claim. In the context of a personal injury claim, a demand letter is a formal document that is sent by the injured victim—or, more often, their attorney—to the defendant/insurance company. The demand letter generally provides details about the accident, the injuries, and the compensation that is being sought to resolve the matter. A demand letter often serves as an early step in the negotiation process. 

A Demand Letter Drives Your Case Forward

One of the core goals of a personal injury demand letter is to move a case forward. Indeed, after a serious accident in Iowa City, a demand letter can play a big role in getting settlement negotiations with the insurance company started. A demand letter signals to the insurer that you are well-organized and that you are prepared to move your case forward. By clearly establishing liability and damages, you are laying the foundation for success in the claims process. 

What can you expect from a defendant and/or insurance company after they receive a demand letter? The answer varies based on a wide range of case specific factors. After some accidents in Iowa City, a well-written initial demand letter may be sufficient to get the insurance company to offer a full settlement. In other cases, the demand letter could kick off more serious settlement negotiations between the parties. 

Understanding What Needs to Be in a Personal Injury Demand Letter

Beyond knowing what a personal injury demand letter is, you need to know what actually goes into it. While an effective personal injury demand letter will always be drafted to meet the specific circumstances of a case, there are some central elements that need to be addressed as part of any personal injury demand letter. When your Iowa City personal injury lawyer drafts a demand letter, it will generally address the following four key points: 

  1. The Background and Facts: A demand letter should start by laying out the relevant facts of the case. The recipient—defendant and/or insurance company—should come away from the letter knowing what actually happened. The background and facts section of a personal injury demand letter should thoroughly detail the incident—including where, when, and how the injury occurred. It is important to stick to relevant facts. 
  2. A Statement of Liability (Fault): In Iowa, personal injury liability is based on negligence. To hold another party responsible for your injuries after an accident in Iowa City, you need to prove that their recklessness or carelessness contributed to the incident. In the statement of liability section, the demand letter must assert the defendant’s responsibility for the accident. The goal is to unequivocally establish fault to strengthen the case for compensation.
  3. A Request for Damages: The request for damages section itemizes the financial compensation sought for the injuries sustained. It should list all related expenses, including medical treatments, future care needs, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. Notably, this part of a personal injury demand letter often includes supporting documents such as bills or receipts. You should make a clear demand for compensation. 
  4. A Timeline for a Response: The timeline for a response section specifies the window of time the insurance company has to respond to the demand letter. Be proactive. You have limited time to bring a claim. Under Iowa law (Iowa Code § 614.1(2)), most personal injury cases are subject to a two-year statute of limitations. If a claim is not brought in a timely manner, you could lose out on your right to recover financial compensation for your injuries. 

Your Demand Letter Should Be Drafted By an Iowa Personal Injury Attorney

Hurt in an accident in Iowa City? A demand letter can help to move your case towards a settlement. That demand letter should always be drafted by an experienced Iowa City personal injury attorney. A sloppy or flawed demand letter is not good enough for your case. Along with other things, a Des Moines personal injury attorney can: 

  • Hear your story and answer questions about your case; 
  • Investigate your accident—gathering evidence of liability and damages; 
  • Draft a compelling personal injury demand letter; and
  • Represent you in any settlement negotiations with the insurance company. 

A formulaic demand letter is not the right approach in a personal injury case. As every accident involves its own unique set of facts and circumstances, it is crucial that any demand letter is drafted to meet the specific situation. You need an Iowa City personal injury attorney who will invest time and resources into your case. 

Get Help From a Top-Tier Iowa City Personal Injury Lawyer Today

At Ball, Kirk & Holm, P.C., our Iowa City personal injury attorneys are devoted to putting the rights and interests of victims first. If you or someone close to you was hurt in a bad accident, we can help. Contact us today for a free review of your case. We are always ready to come directly to you to provide better support. Our firm handles personal injury cases in Iowa City and across the area.