Image by Canva.comA demand letter is one of the first steps in gaining redress for an injury caused by a third party. Unfortunately, we see people trying to craft and deliver these on their own, which often leads to them getting less than they deserve—or getting nothing, even when they have a compelling case. So, how can you avoid that outcome with your demand letter?
What Does a Successful Demand Letter Require?Writing a successful demand letter when you’re injured and in pain can be challenging. There are a few things that a demand letter needs to be successful, but perhaps most important is to keep a neutral tone. Failure to do so may result in poor outcomes should the case proceed to a trial.
Information About the IncidentIn a demand letter, it’s important to include the full name and address of the recipient and the party sending the letter. It’s also essential to clearly outline the incident and the date and time where it occurred.
ClaimThe claim is where you outline the remedy you expect due to the incident. Most often, in injury cases, this is monetary compensation. People often struggle with determining how much they should ask for in the demand letter. Most people either wildly overestimate how much they should receive or in some cases, underestimate how much they’re owed. That number is based on the individual case and legal precedent and can be difficult to calculate on your own.
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Supporting EvidenceNext, you should include evidence that supports your case. This may be a copy of a police report about the accident or photos or videos of the incident.
Expected ResolutionYou should also clearly outline the expected resolution—what the other party needs to do to address your claim satisfactorily.
DeadlineFinally, you should include a deadline for a response. You should also state that you plan to pursue legal action if you don’t receive a response by the deadline.
What Happens When You Get a Response?Once you’ve sent a demand letter, there’s a good chance you will get a response. However, the response may not be what you’re expecting. Sometimes, the other party will agree to your demands. In that case, you have to produce a legally binding contract that details the agreements between you and them and make sure that it’s something they can agree to. Or, they may produce a contract, so you have to be careful not to sign something away accidentally. The response can also be negative. They may refuse to accept your demands or make a counteroffer that you can’t accept. The next step in those situations is legal action. Whether the response is positive or negative, you’ll probably want a lawyer on hand for this step to ensure that everything you do and any contracts you sign are legally square.
What Happens When You Don’t Get a Response?Sometimes, you don’t get a response to a demand letter. This is not a great move by the other party, but when it happens, it can be tricky to determine what the next steps should be. Most of the time, the next step will be to escalate to a lawsuit, but the specifics vary based on the situation. Making the wrong move here can damage your case, so again, if you want the best odds of success, it’s important to engage a lawyer at or before this happens.
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