Do I include cost of my totaled vehicle in a demand letter?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I include cost of my totaled vehicle in a demand letter?

I was in a car accident that was not my fault. The insurance company paid me for the totalled vehicle. Now I’m writing a demand letter for medical bills and lost wages. Can I also include in the demand letter any hidden costs to me regarding the totalled vehicle? I had no way to get to work for weeks while looking for another car, and had to rely on friends after the rental vehicle time expired. It took time away from work to look for another car, plus it seems as thought the stress of the whole ordeal should be addressed. Thank you.

Asked on March 26, 2018 under Accident Law, California


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Property damage and personal injury are separate claims.  The demand letter should not mention the property damage claim because the property damage claim was settled when the insurance company paid you for the totalled vehicle. Since the case was settled, you can't include items about the rental car or time away from work to look for another car. Those issues should have been addressed in your property damage claim.  In order to settle the property damage, you signed a release of your claim, and therefore, you cannot receive additional compensation for the property damage.
The demand letter is just for your personal injury claim since the property damage has been settled.  The demand letter should include your medical bills, medical reports, and documentation of wage loss for your injuries.
Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports document your injury and are used to determine compensation for pain and suffering which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.
You mentioned stress.  If you want to include that, you will need to go to a psychiatrist or psychologist to receive treatment for stress caused by the auto accident, and you will need to include the psychiatrist's or psychologist's medical bills and their medical reports when you complete your treatment and are released by the doctor.  Don't send the demand letter yet if you want to include these items.  Send the demand letter after completing treatment with the psychologist or psychiatrist and obtaining their bills and medical reports.  Add their bills to your other medical bills from this auto accident and there would also be additional compensation for pain and suffering for your stress.  If you miss additional time from work due to this additional medical treatment, document it and add it to the time you missed from work for your previous medical treatment for your auto accident injuries.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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