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You can send a demand letter without a lawyer.
If you currently have a dispute against a person or company, consider sending a demand letter as a way to resolve the issue outside of court. A demand letter is a letter outlining a set of requests you would like the other person or company to fulfill. In this article, we discuss factors to consider when deciding to write a demand letter on your own, what not to include in your letter, and provide a demand letter template.
Do I Need a Demand Letter from an Attorney?
There is no requirement that states you need an attorney to write a demand letter. You can write and send a demand letter on your own. Consider the following factors when deciding whether or not to hire an attorney to write a demand letter:
Cost. Hiring an attorney can be expensive, and the cost of drafting a demand letter may not be worth it for smaller claims.
Time and effort. Hiring an attorney can save you time and effort in researching and writing the letter yourself.
The complexity of your case. For some issues, you may need an attorney’s expertise in a specific area of law. For example, if you have a potential negligence claim against someone, it may be worth discussing your claim with a lawyer, as this type of law can be quite nuanced.
Credibility. A demand letter sent by a lawyer may have more weight and may be more likely to lead to a response.
Ultimately, if you can afford it, in some situations, it may be better to get a demand letter from an attorney, but this shouldn’t discourage you from writing your own letter.
When Can You Send a Demand Letter?
A well-crafted demand letter can be a useful tool if you are trying to settle a dispute outside of court and is a recommended pre-litigation step for all types of cases.
Here are some of the most common reasons to send a demand letter:
If you were in a minor car accident where you weren’t injured, but your car was damaged.
If you have a dispute over a breach of contract.
If someone owes you money.
If a contractor owes you a refund for nonperformance or improper work.
If you own a small business and your client owes you outstanding invoices.
If your landlord hasn’t returned your security deposit.
If a mechanic improperly repaired your car.
If someone damaged your property.
What Not To Do When Writing a Demand Letter
Just as there is no requirement for hiring an attorney, there are also no set rules for how to write a demand letter. However, here are some general tips on what not to do when writing your demand letter.
Do not make any threats. Avoid making threats in the demand letter, as this can harm your attempts to resolve the issue amicably and may be illegal. For example, don’t tell someone they are going to go to jail for their actions.
Do not use antagonistic language. Try not to use language that will convey you are angry or hostile. This letter is a way for you to resolve your dispute. Name-calling or aggressive language could harm your chances of reaching a resolution.
Do not make up facts. If you cannot resolve your dispute outside of court and end up in front of a judge, your letter can be used as evidence. Don’t harm your own credibility by making false statements or making up facts in your demand letter.
Unreasonable demands. Try to avoid making unreasonable demands in the demand letter, as this could make it less likely that your demands will be met.
Don’t misstate laws. If you are relying on any specific state or federal law, make sure to properly cite the law because you could lose credibility.
Instead, make your letter to the point and concise. The main goal of a demand letter is to convey that if the company or person meets your demand, the dispute at hand will be resolved. You also want to provide notice in your letter that if your demands aren’t met, you intend to sue.
Demand Letter Template
Below is a sample demand letter with headings to help you understand what your letter should include. This sample letter is about a request for a refund. When using this sample, replace those facts with facts from your situation and insert the relevant information of your dispute in:
CONTACT INFORMATION & DATE
[Name of Company]
RE: [Requesting a refund of my payment]
Dear [Name of Company],
I am contacting you requesting a refund for [amount owed]. I am attempting to resolve this out of court, but if we cannot come to an agreement, I intend to sue.
STATEMENT OF FACTS
Here is a statement of my case that I intend to submit to the court:
I visited your storefront in [store address] and purchased [item name] on [date of purchase]. I paid a total amount of [dollar amount paid] for this product. However, when I tried using the product, it did not work as intended. [Describe what happened with the product]. I read your terms and conditions, [state the refund policy for the store]. However, when I went back to the storefront, my refund request was refused. I have attached to this letter the product receipt as evidence of my purchase and the amount that I am owed.
WHERE THE OTHER PARTY CAN REACH YOU
I look forward to resolving this matter amicably, and I am amenable to discussing mediation. You may contact me at [your email] if you would like to discuss this matter further. Please refund this balance to the credit card that was used to make the initial payment.
DEADLINE AND INTENT TO SUE LANGUAGE
If I do not hear from you by [14 days from now], you leave me no alternative but to file a lawsuit against you. In the event of a lawsuit, I intend to seek redress to the fullest extent permitted by law, including, but not limited to, additional damages, legal services costs, court costs, and accrued interest.
[Your Name and Signature Above]
How to Send a Demand Letter
In general, you may send your demand letter via email, mail, text message or even hand delivery. For letters that you mail, consider sending your letter with tracking information so that you know when it has been delivered.
Next Steps After Sending a Demand Letter
Wait for a response. If the deadline you provided in your demand letter has passed and the person or company hasn’t responded or refuses to meet your demands, consider sending a final demand letter before legal action or going to small claims court.
Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Claudia holds a J.D. degree and is a certified mediator in New York and Florida. She has participated in dozens of small claims mediations in New York City courts.