Truck Accident Demand Letters: 5 Mistakes To Avoid

Posted on: 3 November 2015

If a truck collides with your car and injures you or one of your passengers, you'll need to send a demand letter to the truck driver's insurance company. A demand letter sets out your account of events and outlines what you want the insurer to do, so it's vital that you get this critical document right. Make sure a bad demand letter doesn't jeopardize your claim by avoiding the five following mistakes claimants sometimes make.

Failure to use the 'For Settlement Purposes Only' marking

Judges want people to settle their claims directly with the insurance company as often as possible, because this cuts down on the work that passes through the legal system. As such, certain conditions aim to make it easier to settle without court action. For example, the defendant's attorney cannot generally use the details that you share with the claims adjuster during the settlement stage at a later date in court.

It's important to explicitly state that you expect the information you give in your letter will be used for settlement purposes only. If you don't mark the letter in this way, your case could become more complicated later, especially if the truck driver suggests that you are partly to blame for the accident. Without the marking, the defendant's attorney may use the demand letter against you.

Excessive details about the incident

Loss adjusters must deal with a lot of letters and applications every day, so it's important to make sure your demand letter gets straight down to the facts. Generally speaking, the more you say, the more likely it is that the claims adjuster will have questions or will need to clarify something.

This is particularly important when describing the truck driver's liability. Often, you can boil down the driver's actions into one or two sentences. You simply need to describe what the driver did that resulted in the collision, so keep it short and simple.

Using the word "accident"

Certain words and phrases can cause problems for you at a later stage. For example, your demand letter relates to a collision that took place between a truck and your car, and you want to make it clear the truck driver was negligent.

As such, you should avoid the word "accident." This word can suggest that nobody was to blame for the incident, which contradicts the aim of the letter. You were involved in a collision, not an accident.

Failure to include incriminating statements

In the immediate aftermath of a collision, the truck driver may say something that you can include in your letter as evidence of his or her negligence. Even a relatively innocuous statement like, "I only took my eye off the road for two seconds" can land the driver in hot water, but you need to make sure the claims adjuster is aware of these statements.

Some claimants mistakenly believe that this sort of detail is only relevant when/if the case gets to court. This is not true. In fact, these details in a demand letter can persuade a loss adjuster to settle, saving you time and stress.

Exaggerating your injuries

A collision with a truck can cause considerable injuries, but you shouldn't use the demand letter as an opportunity to embellish the truth. When describing your injuries, stick closely to the details, using medical terms and/or information that you can easily substantiate with your doctor's report.

Of course, you should also describe how the injuries now affect your life. Again, don't overdo the detail. Where possible, show how any adjustments you have made in your daily life are based solely on the advice that your doctor gave. For example, you could say that you have taken three months off work because your doctor suggested you could aggravate your injury by working. This information will make it clear to the loss adjuster that you aren't milking the claim.

If a truck collides with your car, you may need to claim compensation from the truck driver's insurance company with a demand letter. Talk to a trained truck accident attorney, such as those at Scherline And Associates, for further advice.