Posted By Alan Sackrin on November 19, 2015
Last Update: 12/17/15
Some slip and fall and trip and fall accidents can be serious enough that the damages that result from one of these falls can include a large amount of medical expenses (past and future), EMS charges; bills for hospital stays and doctor visits; and even dentist and oral surgeon costs. Those expenses are in addition to the cost of drugs, neck collars, wheelchairs, rehab therapy, and the like.
Even minor falls can hurt someone enough that they miss days or weeks of work to recover from broken bones and even bad sprains or torn ligaments. And some slip and fall injuries can be so serious that they result in permanent injuries. Which brings up the issue of how to recover these expenses, including lost income.
If you are hurt at work, then you’ll probably have a procedure to follow from your employer on filing for worker’s compensation coverage.
However, if you are hurt in a fall at school, in a store, supermarket, while dining in a restaurant or fast food place, and you are going to file a claim to recover your expenses, pain and suffering and other damages, then you will need to submit a “demand letter” detailing your claim and demanding that those responsible for the accident pay for your losses.
What Is A Demand Letter?
A demand letter is a letter sent to the insurance company representing the negligent party explaining the accident and your damages, with an itemization of your costs and expenses, and requesting they be covered. Basically, the demand letter gives a summary of the facts of what happened in your slip and fall accident, and explains why the responsibility lies with the store, restaurant, etc.
It also includes a number for the exact amount of money that you are asking as compensation for your damages and that number should be supported by documentary evidence: copies of the medical records, bills, invoices, etc.
Who Writes The Letter?
As a personal injury lawyer, I have written a lot of demand letters. However, there is no law that requires a slip and fall victim to hire a lawyer to write their slip and fall demand letter. The accident victim is free to write their own demand letter and present it to the insurance company for payment (of course we don’t recommend this course of action).
5 Documents To Include With Your Demand Letter
For those who opt to write their own demand letter, we suggest that these five documents be included with the letter to the insurance company. They can be clipped to the demand letter itself, and identified as “enclosures” or “attachments” in the demand letter itself (e.g., “attached are the following documents”):
1. Witness Statements
Written statements by one or more witnesses to the slip and fall or trip and fall accident are helpful to support a claim. Here, those who saw what happened provide their story of the events, both before, during, and after the incident occurred. Family and friends who were there with the victim at the time of the accident can provide them.
Strangers who saw the accident can be strong witnesses, since they are uninterested third parties. The insurance adjuster will have a harder time of arguing their recollection is biased in your favor than bystanders who know and love the victim.
2. Paramedic Report
Emergency Medical Technicians create written medical reports of what happened during their treatment at the scene and during transport to the care facility, just like nurses and doctors do when you are in the hospital. Copies of their reports of your EMS care are important to include with the demand letter. Details may be revealed here about the scene of the accident, the amount of pain you were experiencing, and other facts that back up your settlement demand in ways that other documentation cannot.
3. Lost Wages Verification
When you lose work because you’re hurt in a slip and fall accident, Florida law provides that you be covered for your “lost wages” — but you need to prove these losses. A demand letter which includes a claim for lost wages needs to have documentation from the victim’s employer that gives the details on days missed, the amount of wages the victim was docked, and any other losses they have incurred from being off the job. This needs to be signed by a representative of the company, and it’s helpful if it is printed on the company’s letterhead.
4. Hospital Medical Bills
A hospital stay after a slip and fall accident can include a variety of medical expenses that should be included in a demand letter. All documentation from the hospital can and should be provided as attachments. Expenses for drugs, Emergency Room treatment, surgery, post-op, physical therapy, and more should and most likely will be detailed in the hospital invoice that the victim receives at or after discharge.
5. Doctor’s Medical Narrative
The treating physician will have his or her own doctor’s report or “narrative” for the victim’s injuries and treatment. There will be a prognosis, for instance, of the victim’s long term recovery from the fall as well as the medical explanation of the injuries and what was done to help the victim. Other doctors may have narratives to provide, as well. If the victim needed specialists as part of their care (e.g., an oral surgeon) then their reports need to be included with the settlement demand letter.
If you decide to write your own settlement demand letter, then be prepared because you will be dealing with an insurance adjuster who reads these letters all day long. Present your claim in clear and professional manner. Make sure that you have no spelling errors in your letter. Include your phone number and an email address.
Use the phrase “for settlement purposes only” to make sure it’s understood that this is an offer in settlement. Don’t forget to describe the aftermath of the accident to you and your family members and any resulting emotional distress you’ve experienced (anxiety, depression).
And be prepared to negotiate with the adjuster. This demand letter is your invitation for settlement negotiations.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you have been harmed by a slip and fall, is to at least speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims, including the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions, including what to include in a demand letter.
- What Is The Best Accident Claim Advice That I Can Share?
- Slip/Trip And Falls In Florida – An In Depth Look
- What Type of Proof Do You Need for Your Florida Slip and Fall Claim?
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.