Most breaches of contract lawsuits filed often come as no surprise to the defendant. They usually find out about an aggrieved party’s intention to file suit upon receiving a demand letter . A demand letter, also known as a letter of demand (LOD), is a legally binding, written document that communicates your intent to resolve a dispute before filing a lawsuit.
The guide below will help you understand when to write a demand letter, common types, how to write one, essential elements, and other vital tips.
When To Write a Demand Letter
You should only write a demand letter if you’re serious about taking legal action against the recipient for breach of contract . A demand letter is more than “just a complaint” and is a form of pre-litigation. It’s generally the final communication one receives before an aggrieved party files a lawsuit, which they usually attach as evidence to their civil court petition.
Here are five example scenarios of when to write a demand letter:
Scenario 1. Missed Contractor Deliverables
Untimely work affects your business from a financial and legal standpoint. If you paid a independent contractor for a product or service, and have yet to deliver, issue a demand letter. Even if you haven’t paid in full, you still have a right to the terms outlined in your contract.
Scenario 2. Unpaid Customer Invoices
Most debt collection letters are actually non-payment demand letters. You can send a letter to debtors when you’re seeking remittance on monies owed before escalating the issue. Keep in mind that many states have specific rules surrounding collection letters, which means that you should familiarize yourself with them first.
Scenario 3. Inadequate Insurance Settlements
Property damage and personal injury claimants routinely issue insurance settlements that are well below market value. If you’re on the receiving end of a subpar amount, send a demand letter to the insurer regarding a bad faith and unfair dealing action.
Scenario 4. Business Partner Disputes
Business partners have a fiduciary duty to meet their contract terms. An aggrieved business partner can write a demand letter related to a breach of contract claim. The letter should conclude with a way for the partner to make up for their wrongful actions.
Scenario 5. Faulty Product Replacements
Consumers have a right to safe products and services. If a manufacturer or company refuses to replace a faulty product, a well-crafted demand letter can inform them of your decision to proceed with a lawsuit. Sometimes, this form of dispute resolution is what they need to satisfy your demands.
Common Types of Demand Letters
Demand letters generally seek to resolve a breach of contract dispute while letting the recipient know that you are earnest in your legal efforts. However, there are different demand letters, and one may be more appropriate for your situation than another. Sending the wrong letter type can worsen your legal problem if it doesn’t serve the intended purpose.
Common types of demand letters include:
- Property damage claims demand letters
- Personal injury claim demand letters
- Partnership dispute demand letters
- Breach of contract demand letters
- Stop payment demand letters
- Non-payment demand letters
- Insurance claim demand letters
- NSF demand letters
How To Write A Demand Letter – Step by Step
If you’re writing your first demand letter, you’re likely wanting to do everything just right. Determine what your hope your demand letter will accomplish and infuse this message throughout the document. This approach is intelligent since courts may need to review your demand letter as evidence in the future.
These are the nine steps to take when writing a demand letter:
- Step 1 . Start by writing your demand letter from an unemotional space
- Step 2 . Gather all relevant documentation and evidence
- Step 3 . Utilize proper formatting and letter writing techniques, including correct grammar and spelling
- Step 4 . Stick to the facts and explain, in a linear manner, the events and dates that lead to the breach
- Step 5 . Identify the federal, state, and local laws broken and cite them in your letter after your timeline summary
- Step 6 . Itemize the tangible and intangible damages you suffered from their actions
- Step 7 . Conclude your note with the exact steps they need to take to satisfy the dispute and set a deadline
- Step 8 . Sign the letter in a wet signature with blue ink so that it’s harder to challenge its validity in the future
- Step 9 . Attach photocopies of your admissible, discoverable evidence and retain the originals for yourself
Writing your first demand letter is no easy feat. There are legal issues that you need to spot, which perplexes even the most seasoned critical thinkers. Plus, breach of contract laws apply to your situation and can make it hard to spot the relevant issues.
Essential Elements To Include In A Demand Letter
The elements that you include in a demand letter depend upon the facts and circumstances. For example, a non-payment demand letter contains different elements from a partnership dispute demand letter.
While your letter may differ, here are a few essential elements to know:
- Element 1. Factual Statement : Offer a statement of what lead to the issue you are describing. Introduce yourself, identify relevant parties, and offer a timeline of the facts. Be sure to cite the evidentiary attachment for the recipient’s reference. Avoid making self-incriminating statements and stick to the facts.
- Element 2. Liability Statement : This element is where you prove that the recipient committed a breach of contract. Cite the exact laws and policy provisions broken to build your case. Do not embellish or overstate your findings since the facts should speak for themselves.
- Element 3. Amount Due : Always specify how much the breached party needs to pay. If you’re willing to resolve it for a lesser amount, as in the case of debt collection, let them know of your offer and a cut-off date. You can also ask the recipient to complete a task or service to resolve the situation.
- Element 4. Demand: Close out your letter by making a final demand. Ensure that this section is very clear about your expectations, including a summary of amounts owed and what actions you plan to take if they don’t respond. It’s always best to include a respond by date and what responses you’re willing to accept.
- Element 5. Evidence : It’s commonplace to attach evidence to your demand letter. The other party may need to review to take your demand letter seriously. Act in good faith by showing them how you view the situation backed by tangible proof of your allegations.
Many of these issues can be resolved through dispute resolution and end with a settlement agreement that avoids court entirely. Business lawyers can help you navigate the legal complexities of demand letters and disputes from a big picture perspective. Consider getting legal advice from one if you are in a challenging situation.
Can I Write My Own Demand Letter?
Yes, you can write your own demand letter. However, get legal advice from litigation lawyers beforehand since there are legal implications associated with using them. These implications aren’t always apparent and will affect your case’s outcome if the dispute escalates.
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