When Should I Write A Demand Letter?

A common scenario: Sarah purchases a designer handbag on eBay from Mary. When it arrives, Sarah realizes that the handbag is a knock-off and not the authentic designer for which she paid so much money. Mary refuses to take the handbag back. She hangs up the phone whenever she hears Sarah’s voice on the line. Sarah decides to write a demand letter and sends it via certified mail to Mary. Mary never responds. Finally, Sarah decides she needs to take Mary to court and Mary feigns complete surprise, claiming, “I had no idea you had a problem with the handbag–why didn’t you say something before?” Sarah’s demand letter, with its complete account of events, can now be used as evidence to back up Sarah’s account of the dispute–and it will make Mary look less believable to the judge and/or jury.

Often a demand letter can effectively explain a dispute and help both parties avoid costly litigation. Here are some important tips to consider when writing your own demand letter:

  • Summary. The first section explains who is writing the letter and why they are writing, and may include a quick summary of the Plaintiff’s injuries or damages.
  • Background Information. This section should explain the relationship between the disputing parties.
  • Facts. This is the who, what, where, when, and why. Make sure to include as many facts and details as possible in this section so that all parties understand the dispute fully.
  • Claim for Damages. This section should outline the injuries or damages incurred as a result of the incident.
  • Demand. The last, and arguably most important section, should explain what action you are demanding from the other party. You should also include a deadline (typically 2-3 weeks) for a response, so that if there is no response, you can move to the next legal step available.
  • Avoid threatening or disparaging the other person. Do not use language that will convey frustration or anger. Creating a negative mood will only lessen your chances of reaching an amicable agreement. Also, if the dispute ends up in court, remember that the same judge who will hear your case will read your demand letter. This is another reason to keep it objective and professional. The last thing you would want is for the judge to perceive you as being antagonistic.
  • Send the letter by certified mail so that you have an official record that the other party actually received the letter. This receipt can be used as evidence in court if the other party claims they never received your demand letter.
  • Make and keep several copies of the letter for yourself and for use in any future court appearances. In the event you end up in front of a judge, you will be prepared.

Getting A Legal Demand Letter From An Attorney

Finally, although anyone can send a demand letter, many legal professionals will write a Legal Demand Letter for a flat fee. A demand letter is typically taken more seriously when it is written on law firm letterhead, indicating that you went to the trouble of hiring a lawyer who is trained and skilled at fighting on behalf of their clients.Contact the experienced attorneys at Smiley Law for more information about a flat fee demand letter for your legal needs.

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Seth Smiley
Seth is an attorney licensed to practice in Louisiana and California. He is the owner and lead attorney at Smiley Law Firm. To speak with Seth fill out the form on this page.
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