Mar 1, 2022

If you have suffered financial loss due to a crime, then you can benefit from The Mandatory Restitution Act of 1996. This act established procedures that determine the amount of restitution to which a victim is entitled to.

Essentially, restitution provides victims with compensation that they are entitled to due to their own losses suffered as a result of someone else committing an offense. In some cases, this may be something that a defendant agrees to repay as part of a plea agreement.

What is a Letter of Restitution?

When you are fighting a ticket or you are convicted of a crime, you may be asked to get a Restitution Letter from your insurance company. This letter is to help the court resolve the case and ensure the victim of the crime or accident was paid for their damages.

Alternatively, if you are the victim and have suffered damages, the opposing side would be required to obtain this letter.

Who Needs a Letter of Restitution?

If an officer were to write you a traffic ticket, they can also select a box entitled "car accident" if you happen to be involved in an accident. The purpose of this is to signal to the prosecutor that there was an accident that took place.

During the investigation of the case, they will determine who is at fault for the accident. This entails dissecting the facts and circumstances around the accident, discovering who has suffered damages if you hold insurance, and if the "victim" has received repairs or compensation for their property damages.

Whether you were the cause of an accident or the victim, you may need a restitution letter, it’s very situational. It’s best to speak with an experienced injury attorney to find if you should obtain a letter of restitution.

What Does a Restitution Letter Tell the Prosecution?

The prosecution requests a restitution letter because it shows that you or your insurance company has reviewed the facts regarding the accident. It also states that you have determined who was at fault in terms of civil liability.

The restitution letter is typically created by either party's insurance company, but can also be created by an employer, if they were the ones to pay the damages.

If you paid the other driver out of pocket, then the other driver might write a restitution letter as a release of liability.

Essentially, the restitution letter should answer the following questions: 

  1. Have both parties reported the accident?

  2. Do both parties have insurance?

  3. Has your insurance paid to repair the property damages to the other party? (If you’re at fault)

  4. Has your insurance denied liability for the property damages of the other party?

  5. Have you reported the accident to your insurance company?

  6. Did the other party not make a claim so there is no one to pay?

It is good to note that your insurance will typically deny liability to the other driver in a car accident if you’re determined free from fault.

If the other driver does not have insurance, then this can also occur, or your insurance company may deny liability, but not state why.

If these questions are answered, typically the prosecution will come to a conclusion. Typically, if the insurance companies have come to a conclusion themselves, then the prosecutor will dismiss the case as a "civil matter".

How to Request a Letter of Restitution

If you or your personal property were harmed due to the actions of someone else, you have a few options.

Your first option is to settle out of court. This can avoid the long process and expenses involved in a lawsuit.

However, it is essential to document this process if you were paid back. It’s important because you may need to have proof of what has been paid. You can then formally submit your request for restitution in writing. If the other party responds in writing with the payment or replacement item, you will be covered in the future.

Writing Your Own Restitution Letter

If you have decided you need a letter of restitution and wish to write it yourself, you can begin the letter by typing your address and the full date. You should also include the recipient's name and address on separate lines, as well as an introduction: "Dear Mr./Ms. (Last name)" followed by a colon.

Then begin the letter by giving a brief overview of the incident and clearly request restitution. The request can be specified for a number amount, or a repair/replacement.

An example of a specific request for restitution would be:

"On February 11, 2021, you backed into my brand-new F-150. You left a huge dent in the bumper, which was custom-made. It caused so much damage that I was forced to replace the entire bumper. I am asking you for the sum of $1,562, to cover the cost of replacement and installation."

It is important to keep in mind that the purpose of the letter is to explain the accident and damage in detail. You want to define the incident for both of your legal records. Give as much information as you can but stay professional.

End the letter by stating that the payment will fix the matter in your eyes, and you will not pursue the matter further should they agree. Add your contact information and end the letter with your name.

Before you sign and send the letter, be sure to make a copy for your own records. Mail the original by certified mail to ensure you have the evidence that they received it.

How a Colorado Personal Injury Lawyer Can Help

Working with a Colorado personal injury lawyers can make the process of restitution a lot easier. Rather than write a letter and work a case on your own, a Colorado attorney can represent you and write a clear and concise letter of restitution; Ensuring you get the best outcome possible.

Whether that means obtaining the best settlement or paying less for an accident that you caused.

Contact our team of personal injury lawyers today for a free case evaluation!

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