payment-overdue-930x300Many scenarios exist where someone might owe you money. Are you a small business owner who regularly does work for clients with a contract? Without a contract? Have you ever lent money to a friend or relative? Perhaps you’ve had a dispute with your mechanic or dry cleaner regarding their services, and they have agreed to pay you for poor quality? What if you are in any of these scenarios and the person that owes you money isn’t willing to pay you? What do you do?

Is there a contract?

The first and most important step is to determine whether or not a written contract exists. If you have a non-written agreement with someone, and are owed money, you will want to contact an experienced California business litigation attorney to discuss your options. If a written contract does exist, then the terms of that contract will control how the dispute is handled. A written contract is a very strong piece of evidence, and you can file suit against the person that owes you money, but your first step should be a flat fee demand letter written by an attorney.

Flat Fee Demand Letter

Often a demand letter can effectively explain a dispute and help both parties avoid costly litigation. A well written flat fee demand letter should include a summary explanation of the dispute and damages, background information about the dispute and parties, facts about the dispute and injuries, a claim for damages, and a demand for payment. Anyone can send a demand letter. However, 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.

Filing Suit

If you want to go forward with a lawsuit, and the amount you are owed is less than $5,000, you can initiate suit in New Orleans Parish Small Claims Court (note that most other parishes in Louisiana have a $3,000 limit for small claims court. Consult with an attorney for proper venue and filing requirements). Small Claims Court in Louisiana allows either party to hire an attorney.

However, if your claim is over $5,000 (or $3,000 in other parishes), you cannot initiate suit in New Orleans’ Small Claims Court. You will be required to file in New Orleans or Louisiana Civil Court and proceed through a full trial for money damages based on your contract claims.

If you are owed money, contact the experienced attorneys at Smiley law today for your flat fee demand letter 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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