Demand LettersWe can help individuals & families navigate demand letters and other legal claims.
What should you do if you have a dispute with someone, but are not ready to file an action in court?
Sometimes a strongly-worded, professional demand letter can get results while avoiding filing a lawsuit.
What should be in a demand letter?
A good demand clearly and professionally states the facts of your case and explains your claim against the person, persons, or corporation. Such a claim could be for breach of contract, trespass on property, noise violations, or unpaid debts, to name just a few. Your letter does not have to be as formal as a petition filed at court, but it should be well-organized and supported by factual evidence and case law, if possible.
What should the tone of the letter be?
It depends on your case. In my letters, I strive for a tone that is forceful and assertive without resorting to personal attacks, empty threats, or is unprofessional in any way. I always keep in mind that, ideally, I will be able to work with this person on a solution. Do not burn any bridges so that a compromise is impossible to achieve. Allowing for the possibility of a settlement is important because you might not get everything you ask for in court, and you usually will have to pay legal fees to do so.
Should I hire a lawyer to write the letter?
It depends on your case. Do you understand how strong your claim is? Are you confident that you would get relief if you brought your claim to court? Does your opponent have a legal defense to your claim, such as Statute of Limitations, Statute of Frauds, or contributory negligence? A lawyer may be better at analyzing your case, deciding the facts and arguments to include, and omitting those that muddle your message or are harmful. A lawyer is also not as emotionally invested in the case as you. That detachment can be an asset as strong emotions and history with the other person can cloud your judgment and make laying out your argument difficult.
Also, often a letter from a lawyer will be taken more seriously than one you write yourself. If the letter states something like “if you do not do [blank], I may be forced to pursue legal action” packs more punch coming from a lawyer.
What could go wrong?
Your letter might be ignored by the person receiving it. Your letter could be admitted into evidence and if you admitted something damaging, it could harm your case. You also risk angering the other person to the point that they retaliate against you in some way. And finally, if you make any libelous or slanderous claims and send them to a third party, you may be counter-sued. The risks and rewards of the letter should be weighed to decide if sending the letter is a good idea.
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