In order to pursue an injury claim in Florida, you must first make a formal request for payment from the person responsible for the costs of your injury. This request is known as the demand letter and may be addressed to an individual who caused the accident, an insurance company, or both.
Depending on the response to this letter, the demand could be the end of your Florida personal injury case—or it could be the beginning.
What to Include in a Personal Injury Demand Letter
As the injured person, or plaintiff, it's your responsibility to compose a demand letter that clearly outlines your case for financial compensation. The letter is sent to the individual or party liable for costs, also known as the defendant. The demand letter contains a detailed argument with all of the necessary information the defendant needs to decide whether they will pay damages.
While this may sound difficult and confusing, you won't have to worry about it—our injury team will draft this letter for you. Still, it is important to understand this important document and the role it plays in your case. A well-written demand letter should include:
- A detailed account of the plaintiff's injuries. The letter should begin with a factual account of the accident, including its date and time, as well as the exact location of the injury. Injuries should be described using the medical terms assigned to them by treating physicians. In most cases, it's best to wait until you reach maximum medical improvement before sending a demand, as the initial amount requested may not be enough to cover the long-term effects of your condition.
- Why the defendant is responsible. Your demand letter must outline exactly why the defendant is legally liable for the accident. Describe where you were, what you were doing before the incident, the actions of employees or witnesses around you, how the accident occurred, and why the defendant was at fault. It may be helpful to include a copy of any official documentation that corroborates your version of events, such as police reports, language from the defendant's insurance policy, or premises liability statutes in Florida.
- A summary of your medical treatments. This should include all medical treatments for the plaintiff and the amount billed for each, as well as a complete list of health care providers who prescribed treatments and their total costs. Copies of all relevant medical records, bills, doctor's notes, treatment invoices, and other documents referenced in the demand should be included with the letter.
- Income loss estimates. If the injury resulted in time off work, you should note the amount of time that you were unable to do your job and include pay statements or a letter from your employer verifying the time you missed and any vacation balances you were forced to use. If your injury caused significant hardship, describe how the accident impacted your life, such as the length and difficulty of your recovery and any permanent injuries you sustained that affect your future ability to work.
- A listing of any related damages. A demand letter may include an amount over and above the total economic damages, especially if you experienced severe pain or suffering. These damages may include compensation for scarring, disfigurement, long-term pain, inconvenience, loss of mobility, disability, or lost opportunities. In many cases, the sum of money requested as total compensation for all losses is higher than the actual value of the claim, allowing you more flexibility when negotiating a settlement.
What to Do If Insurers Deny a Demand for Payment
After the defendant reviews your demand letter, they will determine whether to pay some, all, or none of the requested damages. They may come back and say you don't have enough evidence to prove liability, your injury was caused by something unrelated to the accident, or you were mostly—or even wholly—at fault for the accident. If the defendant denies the claim or offers a fraction of the amount requested, you may then proceed to the lawsuit stage.
If you suffered an injury in Florida, our Seminole personal injury lawyer can outline your options and send a demand letter that helps start the process of financial recovery. Simply fill out the brief contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.