Filing a Slip and Fall Claim in Miami without an Attorney
First things first. You are not required to have a Miami slip and fall attorney to file a claim for injuries from a slip and fall case. You can represent yourself. You cannot represent someone else unless you are licensed attorney in that jurisdiction. If you do try to represent someone else, you could be criminally liable for practicing law without a license.
Next, you need to decide if you want to represent yourself. If you do, you need to understand what you are up against. If you were injured in a slip and fall accident, there are certain things you should know about slip and fall accidents including what to do after a slip and fall accident in Miami. If you were injured on a business owner’s property such as a mall, retail store, restaurant, boutique or supermarket then you need to think it through. Business owners are not likely to just give you money because you might have been hurt on their premises.
You will need to plan how to file your injury claim. If you rush into it, that could backfire and possibly ruin your claim. Here is a list of the most important steps to follow:
14 Things You Should Know About Representing Yourself in a Miami Slip and Fall Injury Claim
If you were hurt on a business property, then call for help. Ask for the manager or owner. Call 911 if necessary. You never really know the extent of your injuries in the moments after your slip and fall.
- You should request that the manager write what is called an “incident report”. Understand, the manager is not required by law to write an incident report, but you should ask anyway. If the manager does write up an incident report, you cannot force the manager or owner to give you a copy or even show it to you. But with an incident report, you can establish the slip and fall accident happened. This prevents the business owner from claiming you never fell in the store. If your slip and fall claim goes into litigation your Miami slip and fall lawyer can subpoena the incident report.
- Witnesses help. Find any potential witnesses and get their contact information. Even if they did not see you fall, but did see the slippery substance on the floor, their testimony could be valuable. If you can get the witnesses to write down what they saw, that will help your case.
- Look for any kind of evidence that may help prove your slip and fall injury claim. Use your cell phone to take videos of the area or photographs of where you slipped and fell. The focus of your videos or photographs should be on whatever caused your injury. Take pictures of the merchandise that tripped you or fell on you. Get video of the water or slippery substance on the floor. Documenting the hazardous conditions that led to your injury can make the difference in resolving your case. Store owners will claim every defense possible. You need to be ready to defend your claim.
- You will need to find out the name of the insurance company for the business. You can ask the manager. They may tell you or more likely they will refer you to someone else in the company. Just make sure they have you contact information. Also keep notes of who you asked and when.
- Getting medical care and treatment as soon as possible. Insurance companies will defend against your claim at every level. Our Miami slip and fall attorneys have heard that clients did not treat fast enough and therefore, the injuries did not happen on their premises. We have also heard that our personal injury clients treated too much and they are only after a settlement. Bottom line is get to an Emergency Room, Urgent Care or your own family physician as soon as you can. Document your injuries.
- If more than a week passes and the insurance company has not reached out to you then you need to put it in writing. Remember, conversations and phone calls can be denied and “mis-rembered”. Leave no doubt – put it in writing. Send a certified return receipt requested letter to the owner and the insurance company. Identify the date you were injured; the location where you were hurt; the condition that caused you to be hurt; and your injuries. Tell them that you have medical bills and other costs related to your slip and fall. Ask for their immediate cooperation or else you will need to get legal advice. There is no reason to threaten lawsuits or attorney action. Be objective and straightforward. Put them on notice then wait. Remember, your letter is evidence and most reputable businesses and insurance companies will respond to a letter.
- Assuming the insurance adjuster contacts you, they will usually request that you give a recorded statement. This stage presents choices. You can agree to a statement but refuse that it be recorded. There is now guarantee that the insurance company representative will agree to this option. If you refuse to give a recorded statement, then the claim processing can grind to a halt. If you do give a recorded statement you could say something unfortunate that sounds like you are blaming yourself or admitting fault. The insurance representative takes these statements all the time. Chances are you have never given one before. If you have serious injuries and/or a complicated fact pattern, you might benefit from consulting with our Miami Premises Liability Injury Attorneys before agreeing to a recorded statement.
- Send the insurance company copies of your witness statements, photographs, videos, medical bills, pharmacy receipts and all of your evidence of lost wages. Enclose all of it with a letter that lists the claim number that the insurance company gave you. If you have any doubts, send it certified mail so you have proof of receipt.
- Only after you are fully healed or you are as good as you will get after medical treatment, then it is time to negotiate. But wait until you are healed. The only time limit you have is the statute of limitations which sets the time in which to file a lawsuit for your slip and fall case. If you have a question about the applicable statute of limitations for your case feel free to call us at (305) 285-1115 and we will answer your questions free of charge.
- If you have a Miami Serious Injury Accident Attorney, he or she can negotiate for you. If you are doing it yourself, then you need to plan your negotiations by knowing what you are entitled to. Once fault is decided, you could recover your past medical bills; the cost of future medical care for your slip and fall injuries; past lost wages and future loss of earning capacity caused by your injuries; pain, suffering, humiliation and your spouse may be entitled to loss of consortium damages (you companionship, comfort) because of your injuries.
- There is no hard and fast rule of how to negotiate. Most insurance companies will argue that their insured is not at fault or more likely, the accident was your fault. But when you get past the liability it becomes an issue of dollars and cents. You could start by asking for a settlement in the range of two to five times (or higher) the amount of your medical bills. Some soft tissue injuries can settle for 1.5 to 3 times that amount of the medical bills. It all depends on the facts of your case and the insurance company involved. You need to decide what your bottom line is to settle your case.
- Your bottom line should include paying your medical bills and liens. If you settle your case you will need to sign a release and otherwise agree to pay your medical bills and liens out of any settlement.
- In your negotiations, remain polite and respectful. Never threaten or call names. Do not get emotional. Your case is very personal to you, but to an insurance company your case is just another claim number. It isn’t personal – it’s business.
- You have your facts and it is up to the insurance company to decide whether to accept those facts and fairly resolve your case or to decide to fight you on every point. Remain objective and make a logical, rational decision of whether to settle or to file a lawsuit.
Miami Slip and Fall Lawyers
If you have any questions about representing yourself in a Miami slip and fall case, give the Miami Slip and Fall Lawyers at Wolfson & Leon a call at (305) 285-1115. We will answer your questions free of charge and help you in any way we can. If you reach the end of your negotiations and have to file a lawsuit, please give us a call. Our personal injury attorneys in Miami can represent you in litigation through trial and appeal if necessary.