Florida personal injury demand letters are a tool for efficient case resolution.
The Coral Gables personal injury attorneys at Maderal Byrne & Furst PLLC explain effective personal injury demand letters in Florida.
What Are Demand Letters?
Demand letters are a litigation tool used to facilitate case resolution. A plaintiff may send a letter to the defendant stating what they are seeking in compensation for a claim.
What should a personal injury demand letter contain?
A personal injury demand letter should contain:
- The plaintiff’s name, address and phone number
- The defendant’s name and information
- Underlying facts of the case
- Basis of the claim
- Damages sought
- A statement of demand
A demand letter states what the plaintiff wants in compensation and the basis for their claim.
The exact contents of the letter and the amount of compensation sought depend on the case specifics.
Demand letters for personal injury are formal documents concisely summarizing the case. It tells the defendant that they are being sued, and the plaintiff is looking for a specified amount of compensation.
The defendant may respond by paying the requested amount or by offering a different settlement. If they reject the offer or fail to respond, the plaintiff may continue to pursue their legal claim.
What’s the Purpose of a Demand Letter?
The purpose of a demand letter is to communicate to the defendant:
- There is a case. If the defense doesn’t pay compensation, they will be sued, or an existing lawsuit will continue.
- A summary of the case and the basis for the personal injury claim.
- What the plaintiff is willing to settle the case for.
- Contact information for the plaintiff to facilitate communication.
A demand letter clearly states the who, what and how much of a personal injury case. It is a communication from the plaintiff to the defendant to explain the case from the plaintiff’s perspective and what it will take to resolve it.
When Should You Send a Personal Injury Demand Letter in Florida?
A personal injury demand letter is usually sent before litigation commences. Sometimes, a personal injury demand letter can resolve a case before the need for formal litigation. Even if litigation has already begun, a personal injury demand letter can be sent during pretrial proceedings.
Do you lose any rights by sending a demand letter?
You don’t lose your right to file a case by sending a demand letter. But remember, the time limit to file a case still applies, so don’t let waiting for a response stall your case filing. The information in your demand letter should be carefully curated – don’t tell the defendant your legal strategy. Using a lawyer to prepare your personal injury demand letter ensures that you don’t make mistakes that would jeopardize your rights.
What makes a strong demand letter?
A strong demand letter is:
- Detailed, but without revealing a case strategy
- Accurate, written to the right defendant and referencing the correct matter
- Professional, free of spelling and grammar mistakes
- Customized, based on the actual damages in the case
- Business-like, without emotion
- Clear, stating that the defense will face litigation
All demand letters must be free of errors and concise. However, what makes a strong demand letter varies from situation to situation.
Legal Help for Writing a Demand Letter
A lawyer can:
- Determine who to send a demand letter to
- Identify the amount to demand in compensation
- Make it clear that you’re serious about getting your compensation
- Write a concise and professional letter
With an experienced lawyer, a demand letter may resolve your case relatively quickly. It can facilitate communication between the parties about a settlement. It can make it clear to the defense that you’re going to file a case, if necessary.
Do demand letters work?
When used effectively, demand letters facilitate settlement in a significant number of cases.
Even if you don’t think the defense will be willing to offer a fair settlement, a demand letter may prompt a resolution. To work, a letter must be customized, detailed and well-written.
How long after a demand letter does a settlement take in Florida?
After the plaintiff sends a demand letter, the defense may respond quickly, or they may not respond at all. If they offer a settlement, documents can be finalized in a few days with payment to follow. If the parties don’t settle, litigation may proceed on a timeline set by the court.
What happens if the defendant ignores your demand letter?
If the defense ignores your demand letter, it’s time to file your lawsuit. The parties may discuss settlement later, or you may resolve your case through a contested court hearing.
Demand Letters in Florida – Important Florida Statutes
Demand letters are mentioned in a few places in Florida law. Generally, they are not required before initiating a personal injury claim.
Are demand letters required in Florida lawsuits?
Demand letters are not required for most Florida lawsuits. However, Florida Statutes § 501.98 requires the plaintiff to send a demand letter before initiating a claim against a motor vehicle dealer under Florida consumer protection laws. The dealer has 30 days to answer. If they pay the damages sought, plus a surcharge of $500 or 10%, whichever is less, the plaintiff may not file their claim.
Does Florida require a demand letter for medical malpractice?
Before filing a medical malpractice claim, Florida Statutes § 766.106 requires a plaintiff to send each prospective defendant a Notice of Intent. The notice isn’t quite the same thing as a demand letter. Still, the notice provides the opportunity for the defense to offer a settlement or arbitration.