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Should I Send a Demand Letter Before a Lawsuit?

Dena Standley | November 08, 2022

Dena Standley
Legal Expert, Paralegal
Dena Standley, BA

Dena Standley is a seasoned paralegal with more than 20 years of experience in legal research and writing, having received a certification as a Legal Assistant/Paralegal from Southern Technical College.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Sending a demand letter can help you reach an agreement without going to court.

Summary: A demand letter is a formal request to reach a settlement or agreement over a dispute, and failure to respond will result in filing a lawsuit. Writing a formal demand letter before suing is not always a requirement. But there are significant advantages to doing so.

You may not have to send a demand letter to the person you are suing. The lawsuit will still go through, and you could win if the judge decides you have a case.

Even then, you will have a better-organized court case if you write a demand letter first.

In this article, we will discuss the following pros of sending a demand letter before a lawsuit:

  • Shows your seriousness about the matter
  • Shows that you are willing to solve the issue (It is proof of good faith)
  • Promotes quick settlement (saving you time and money)
  • It can be used (for or against you) in court

But first, what exactly is a demand letter?

What is a demand letter?

A demand letter is a formal letter you send to another party asking them to stop doing or start taking a particular action. For example, before you sue a landlord for constructive eviction, you can write a letter informing them to compensate you before a deadline. Their failure to do so could lead to a lawsuit.

There are endless forms of demand letters. For instance, you can send the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) 's "Cease and Desist" or "Refusal to Pay" letters to debt collectors. You can also use a demand letter to warn a contractor that you plan to sue if they do not repair the damages they caused in your house.

Let’s explore an example of a demand letter.

Example: Joe hired a contractor to remodel his kitchen. The contractor used sub-standard materials despite a clear contract that spells out the type of materials to be used during the project. The materials clearly did not meet the specifications of the contract, and the installation lacked standard craftsmanship. Joe has made several attempts to resolve the issue, but the contractor is unresponsive. Joe refuses to pay the final half of the contract and instead sends a demand letter detailing the issues, along with his attempts to work out a resolution. Once the contractor receives the demand letter stating Joe’s intent to sue if the problem is not resolved, he contacts Joe to work out an equitable resolution.

Write an FDCPA demand letter.

Why should I send a demand letter before a lawsuit?

A demand letter gives you an upper hand in so many ways.

A demand letter shows that you are serious

Communicating with your opponent through emails and phone calls is fine. But if you want them to take you seriously, a demand letter is a great tool.

The letter shows that you have been keeping track of the situation, you have details, and you will take action if they do not act fast.

The judge will also treat your case more seriously if you go to court after sending a demand letter.

A demand letter proves that you come in good faith

Sending a demand letter before going to court shows your opponent that you want to solve the matter. Instead of dragging on and on, you are willing to talk things out.

When your aggressor sees your commitment, they may want to discuss the matter with you.

A demand letter promotes quick settlement

Giving the opponent an option to settle before you sue can be enticing. Litigation is lengthy and public; most people do not want all the attention and distraction. So it is likely that your rival will prefer a more private settlement.

You can use a demand letter in court

The letter can serve as proof of correspondence between you and your opponent.

As a precaution, remember that the letter can also be used against you. So be careful with what and how you write.

Below, we show you how to write the best demand letter.

How to write a formal demand letter

As we already mentioned, the language of your letter matters. The content is just as important.

So before you write a demand letter, keep these points in mind:

  • Use polite language: You don't want the judge to read a letter in which you are degrading your opponent by using mean language.
  • State all the facts: Even if your opponent already knows the whole story, it is essential to include the facts in your letter. It can remind them of their responsibility in the case. And if you eventually go to court, the judge will have a complete picture of the events.
  • Clearly state your demands: Do you want compensation worth $1000? State it clearly. Your opponent must understand what you expect from them. Remember to set the deadline for them to respond before you file a lawsuit.
  • You should type the letter: Use the computer at a local library if you do not have one.
  • Keep a copy of the letter: Having a copy for yourself is safe because it gives you a point of reference.
  • Use certified mail and request a return receipt: Certified mail shows proof that your opponent received the letter.

Sometimes, a demand letter may be a prerequisite for a lawsuit, but that is not always the case. Even so, you may use a demand letter for the benefits discussed here.

The demand letter can successfully resolve the dispute, and you may not have to go to court. If you eventually go to court, a previous demand letter shows that you made a good-faith attempt to resolve the matter before involving the courts.

Respond to a debt collector demand letter

It’s common for debt collectors to send a demand letter in order to get you to pay up. If you’ve received a debt collector demand letter, you should respond by sending a Debt Validation Letter.

The Debt Validation Letter forces the debt collector to prove that the debt they are trying to collect is valid. In order to validate a debt, the collector must:

  • Give details of the debt, including the exact amount.
  • Outline exactly what you owe with documented proof.
  • State to whom the debt is owed.
  • Include information about how you can dispute the debt.

If the debt collector cannot validate the debt, then they technically cannot continue contacting you about it.

Make your own Debt Validation Letter in minutes with SoloSuit.

To learn more about how a Debt Validation Letter can benefit you, check out this video:

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