What Is a Demand Letter?
Demand letters are legal documents sent between two parties when a wrong has occurred. Typically written by attorneys, demand letters request that the party that is receiving the letter right an injustice that has befallen the victim as a result of the receiver’s actions. Wrongs can include things like breach of contract, not following through with an obligation, being involved in a car accident, or any other offense that resulted in some sort of disadvantage or injury to another party.
Writing out demand letters asking another party for restitution is what precedes an actual lawsuit. It’s essentially the step before you get to court, but after more amicable attempts have been made to recover compensation for damages. You can say they work as a warning or strong reminder – an attempt that one party makes to get paid by the other, before actually having to bring them to court.
Demand letters are usually written by an attorney, and lays out the damages that have occurred, what restitution the party expects, and the deadline by which the money needs to change hands. They often end with the consequences of what will happen when the restitution owed is not paid.
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What Does a Good Demand Letter Have?
A demand letter will serve as a record of your attempts to settle a dispute outside of court, should the issue at hand turn into a lawsuit. As a result, it’s important that your demand letter is detailed, yet clear.
A demand letter is first going to lay out what happened that brought about the issue at hand. It will summarize why previous attempts at an agreement or to receive restitution from the other party have failed, and why you have had to resort to a more formal request for damages. This way, if your case does make it to court, the judge will know what happened, and the attempts that you made to keep it out of court.
A demand letter will also state what you are requesting in restitution, and why. It may even include what you’re willing to settle with that is less than the original amount, so long as you get your payment on time. It will also state what will happen next if the restitution/damages are not paid or settled. This statement will include filing in whatever court is appropriate – small claims, bankruptcy, etc.
It’s important to note that a demand letter should absolutely NOT contain any threats, inappropriate language, or anything similar. This letter is your chance to keep your issue out of court, and save you all the costs that are associated with that. Setting a negative tone or berating tone in a demand letter will make it that much less likely that the other party will respond positively, or repay any damages being requested.
As previously stated, a lawyer will usually write a demand letter, which is ideal because it will serve as a record if your case, unfortunately, makes it to court. Having a lawyer draft your demand letter will ensure that your letter contains everything that it should in order to help you get the money you deserve!
How Much Will My Lawyer Charge Me for a Demand Letter?
While you can write a demand letter on your own, it’s usually best to get a professional to do it for you. Obtaining a lawyer involved early means that if the case, unfortunately, does make it into courts, your lawyer will be familiar with the matter, what you are requesting for restitution, and what’s happened thus far in terms of attempts to right the wrong.
How much a lawyer will charge you for writing a legal letter depends on the size of the firm, where you live, and how complicated your case is. According to our database of legal fees, an attorney practicing on their own will charge anywhere between $750 and $1,200 to write and send a demand letter. A smaller law firm will charge anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500 for their services. Finally, if you chose to use a large firm to write your demand letter – which may make sense if your case is more complicated – your costs may be a little higher. Larger law firms have more resources to represent their clients, and as a result, can charge more for their services. Having a higher-end attorney write your demand letter can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000.
An equally legal option is to use an experienced legal document preparation service. AttorneyFee charges a flat rate of $99 to $349 for drafting and sending a demand letter via USPS certified mail.
How much an attorney may change dependent upon the agreement you make with your attorney. If it’s writing the demand letter alone, they will likely have a fixed price by which their services can be attained. If, on the other hand, you make an agreement with your attorney that should the case proceed to court, they retain contingency fees after a victory, the costs of writing and sending your demand letter may be included in the price of hiring your attorney and paying their fees. Just make sure to read the fine print before you make a decision, so that at the end of the day, you’ll end up with the most money in your pocket!
What Do I Do If I Receive a Demand Letter?
If, on the other hand, you receive a demand letter, you should make sure to hire an attorney right away to look over the letter and what’s expected of you. The most important thing to remember is that you should absolutely not blow it off, and hope that everything gets sorted out on its own. A demand letter is usually the very last step before a case is brought to court. By taking it seriously and talking to an attorney about your options, you may be able to avoid going to court and all the costs associated with it.
Make sure that whatever you do – whether it’s paying the damages or not – make sure you respond to the letter respectfully and professionally. The better your relationship is with the other party, the more likely it is that you will solve the problem without any more confrontation or issues.