Here is an example of the kind of demand letter that might be sent by someone injured in a slip and fall accident on a neighbor’s property. Feel free to use it as a blueprint for drafting your own demand letter. [NOTE: You'll find helpful tips and clarification in bold and bracketed text.]
Sample Demand Letter - Slip and Fall on Neighbor's Property
January 6, 20xx
Mr. Robert Madison
P.O. Box 105
Chicago, IL 60007
Re: Your insured: Brian Richardson
Date of injury: June 15, 20xx
Your file number: 345222A [NOTE: Always use the insurer’s file number on all correspondence with the insurer]
Dear Mr. Madison:
I have finished my medical treatment, and so I am enclosing all of my medical records and bills related to this case. [NOTE: You always want to make sure that the adjuster has all of your medical records and bills relating to your injury when you send a demand letter. The adjuster will not make a settlement offer until he/she has your entire medical file.]
As you know, I was injured when I slipped and fell on the rear exterior steps at Mr. Richardson’s house. Mr. Richardson lives three doors down from me. I had brought my children over to play with Mr. Richardson’s children and had been visiting with him for a while before heading home. I fell on a set of four steps that go from Mr. Richardson’s kitchen to his back yard. There was no handrail on the steps, and the steps seemed shallow. Each step was only 6 inches deep. As I walked down the steps, my right foot slipped off the second step. I had nothing in my hands, but there was no handrail to grab onto, and so I fell onto my rear end. My rear hit the bottom step and then the ground. I had immediate low back pain. Mr. Richardson was standing at the back door as I went down the stairs. He saw me fall. He rushed out the door and tried to help. He was very apologetic. He said that he had been meaning to fix those steps, but just hadn’t gotten around to it.
I contend that Mr. Richardson was negligent with respect to the ownership and upkeep of his property. The steps were unsafe because they had no handrail and because they were not deep enough. I checked the state building code, and the building code does require at least one handrail on all exterior steps. Further, the building code requires exterior steps to be at least 7 inches deep. I have enclosed a copy of the relevant sections of the state building code. [NOTE: Your discussion of liability should be short and to the point. First, you should explain how you got hurt. Second, you should explain exactly why you claim that the defendant was negligent. That’s all that you need to say.]
Mr. Richardson helped me home, and I went to my primary care provider, Dr. Johnson, the next day. Dr. Johnson sent me for x-rays, which showed a fractured L2 vertebra. He referred me to an orthopedist, Dr. Baker, and Dr. Baker performed surgery the next day to repair the vertebra. I was hospitalized for three days. [NOTE: Say exactly what your diagnosis or diagnoses are.]
I am an accountant and sit at a desk all day. Sitting was impossible for the first two weeks. Dr. Baker said that I shouldn’t return to work for at least three weeks. He told me to do some walking every day, but that I should lie down when I wasn’t walking.
My back hurt a lot for the first two weeks; then, it hurt a fair amount. It took probably two months before it wasn’t hurting. I took prescription Tylenol every day for three weeks, and, after that, took regular Tylenol. I pride myself on staying in shape. I am a hard-core biker and runner. I generally exercised six days per week. I probably biked around 100 miles per week and ran 20 miles per week. Although I returned to work after three weeks, I did not begin running and biking again for two months. During those two months, my only exercise (other than my physical therapy) was walking. Dr. Baker knew that I was an athlete and told me very firmly to stay off my bike and to not run for two months. He said that I should do nothing strenuous but physical therapy during that time, then I could start returning to form. [NOTE: You want to explain clearly and concisely your injuries and your pain and suffering. Don’t exaggerate. The adjuster has heard it all before. Just explain what your injuries were and how they affected your life.]
I followed up with Dr. Baker until November 17, and then he released me from care.
My medical bills total $25,200.00. I paid $1,000 in co-pays. My health insurance paid the remainder of the bills, but they have sent me a letter in which they claim a lien of $14,000.00 on any settlement that I may get in this case.[NOTE: If you have to repay your health insurance (and you almost always have to), make sure that you tell the adjuster.]
My medical bills were as follows:
- City Radiology 1,000.00
- City Medical Partners (Dr. Johnson) 200.00
- Community Hospital 15,000.00
- Orthopedic Associates 5,000.00
- West Side Physical Therapy 4,000.00
TOTAL $25,200.00 [NOTE: You always want to put together a little chart listing your medical bills. Don’t make the adjuster read through them to figure out the total amount.]
I work for Roberts Accounting Services. I earn $2,000 per week and missed three weeks of work. I have attached a letter from Dr. Baker saying that I needed to stay out of work for three weeks. Accordingly, my lost earnings claim is $6,000. [NOTE: State your lost earnings claim briefly and clearly. Make sure that you have a doctor’s note saying that you needed to be out of work for the entire time that you were out of work.]My total special damages are $31,200.00.
Taking into account your insured’s liability and my serious damages in this case, I demand $125,000.00 to settle this case. Please advise as to your thoughts on this matter. [After sending the letter, you should give the adjuster three or four weeks to respond. If you don’t hear from the adjuster in a month, then give him/her a call.]
Very truly yours,
Learn more about Proving Fault in Slip and Fall Cases. If you make a demand, but are having problems with the adjuster, you might want to contact a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer in order to discuss your best next step.