What is a demand letter and how do I write one?

A demand letter is one way of resolving a dispute and reaching a settlement. It informs the other party that you suffered damages and demand payment to cover them. It can be a good way to resolve the issue without going through a contentious court case, though in some cases you’ll need to hire an attorney for help resolving a dispute.

When a Demand Letter Is Necessary

Let’s say another party was clearly at fault for an accident. Even if this is clear, it doesn’t mean that person will take responsibility and pay monies owed for damages. This is where a demand letter can help. It is a formal way of informing the individual of your expectations.

Sometimes this is sent immediately after the accident. Other times it’s not sent until negotiations have stalled. Even if the demand letter doesn’t result in a resolution to your case, by having everything laid out in the letter, it could be useful later on if the case goes to court.

How to Write a Demand Letter

The content of the letter depends on what the writer hopes to accomplish. Usually it includes a brief summary of the dispute. Even though it may be obvious to both sides, by presenting the facts in the letter, it simplifies and organizes the information.

An example would be stating that on the date of the accident you entered (name of the store) and shortly after stepping foot inside, slipped and fell. The floor had recently been waxed. But there weren’t any signs indicating it was wet or barriers that would have prevented access. As a result, you suffered multiple fractures in your arm.

A demand letter doesn’t require a rude tone. Use appropriate language. Resolving the issue might take longer if it comes across negatively. For instance, writing that one of the store’s obviously incompetent employees waxed the floor and was too lazy to bother putting up a warning sign or barrier can come off adversarial and rude.

Another part of the letter will address your proposed resolution. It’s important to be specific. If the accident resulted in physical injuries, state the cost of medical bills. If there was missed time from work, indicate how much you lost in earnings. Again, the tone of the piece should be respectful.

Don’t threaten the party to “pay up or else” and don’t ask for more than is rightly deserved. Exaggerating the costs or the impact the injuries will only delay the settlement.

But it’s okay to mention that if the letter’s recipient fails to meet the demands in the letter you will file a lawsuit. Make sure the party is given adequate time to respond. Don’t insist on reaching a resolution within the next two days. It’s important to be reasonable.

You May Have to Consult an Attorney

Sometimes even the best written demand letter won’t result in a satisfactory settlement. It could be the other party refuses to acknowledge liability or the other party doesn’t want to pay the amount specified. At this point it might be a good idea to consult with an attorney. A lawyer can help you determine the next step, which could be to file a lawsuit.

If you’re in the Aurora area and having trouble seeking resolution to your case, contact D.J. Banovitz by calling 303-300-5060 or online via our contact form.