Updated December 29, 2018
Heading to court can be a hassle. It can get expensive, and it’s time-consuming. For the possibility to settle out of court, consider writing a demand letter first.
A demand letter is a formal letter sent to an opposing party before a lawsuit is filed that demands some sort of compensation. The letter would contain a demand for financial compensation, redoing a flawed job, or having the other party fulfill their end of a bargain, for example. The goal is to present the information in such a way that it would be possible to settle out of court.
You can take a stab at writing a demand letter yourself. Follow these tips to write a strong demand letter.
Avoid attacking the other party. Instead, make sure that you approach the letter professionally. Present the facts objectively and without insults or aggressive threats. If you do end up going to court, a judge will need to see the letter as well, and aggressive threats can reflect poorly on the outcome of your case.
Don’t tell the other party to fix the problem without describing your ideal solution. Ask for a specific amount of money, for example, or precise details about other compensation options, such as repairs. Don’t forget to provide a deadline for a response.
Make sure you thoroughly review and include the happenings of the pursuit thus far. You both know what has happened, but if you end up in court, the judge will only have a blank slate. Having all of the details in place will make it easier to justify your requests.
Avoid dancing around the point or using more words than you need to. Getting directly to what you want shows the other party that you’re serious about having your needs met. Should you end up in a courtroom, too, busy clerks and judges might appreciate that there’s less to read.
If you’re going to write a demand letter, don’t sit on it; make sure it’s sent to the other party as soon as possible. As with all lawsuits, the sooner you start to get all of your information together, the better.
In order to prove that you have a case, you might need to submit copies of documents along with your demand letter. If you require copies of accident reports, photographs, medical bills, or other financial statements, get those together as soon as possible. A complete package is better than sending along a letter and following it up with documents later.
In the court of law, the written word is better than a spoken arrangement. Keep at least one copy of your demand letter for yourself. If you decide to hire an attorney, they will need a copy, too.
If you’re thinking about writing a demand letter, having a personal injury attorney on your side could be extremely helpful. They can help you draw up a draft of the letter you plan on sending and give you some guidance on what to include. If you do end up in court, which would be the next step on your way to recovering damages, you’ll want an attorney there as well.
The Personal Injury Attorneys at Wilson Kehoe Winingham have decades of experience fighting for victims. We can help you write a demand letter or review one you have written yourself. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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