A demand letter is an attempt to settle or resolve a case without a need to file and sue. There are two primary categories in a demand letter that must be addressed. These categories are liability and damages.
To better understand the role of a demand letter in your slip and fall case, it is important to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. An experienced slip and fall lawyer in Charleston can build construct a demand letter and ensure that all both categories are addressed.
Elements of a Demand Letter
A person needs to set forth in their demand letter how the property owner is liable in the slip and fall case.
In other words, a person needs to set forth the evidence of why the property owner either knew or should have known that there was a hazard. A person also needs to supply evidence that the property owner either failed to remove the hazard or failed to warn of it.
The second main category that a person puts in a demand letter is the damage. A person needs to clearly set forth all of the damages sustained and that is true in any personal injury case, not just premises liability.
This would include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and a loss of consortium claim. A loss of consortium claim applies when the injured person is married and the spouse can claim loss of love and affection as well as services that the injured spouse typically performed within their marital relationship such as daily household chores.
Presenting the Letter
A demand letter in a Charleston slip and fall case is presented to the liability insurance company for the property owner. Virtually all commercial property owners have a liability insurance policy in place for exactly these types of scenarios, which is why a person buys insurance.
Proving the Case
A plaintiff, in filing a slip and fall claim, is trying to prove that the injury that the claimant sustained was caused by a hazard on the property owner’s premises. Beyond that, the plaintiff has to prove that the property owner either knew of the hazard or should have known of the hazard, and also that the property owner either failed to remove the hazard or failed to warn of it.
There are many defenses that argue against the slip and fall claim.
One of the defenses of a slip and fall case is that the hazard was open and obvious. Another defense can be stating that the property owner could not have known about the hazard because it had not existed very long. For example, a person is shopping at the grocery store and slips on a grape on the floor of the grocery store.
The store owner can claim that the grape had only been on the floor for a few minutes and that there was no way they should have known about the hazard. That is why these cases are tough. There is never a clear liability in these claims and there is always a defense to them, which is often valid. Therefore, a compromise is sought most often by way of settlement and if a compromise cannot be reached, then the case will be tried in front of a jury.