Among all the transactions carried out among individuals, companies, and organizations, some do not materialize how and when expected, leading to disputes of payment, settlement, and compensation. Failure to pay or settle forces a party’s hand to make an official demand to resolve the current dispute outside a court of law; such a letter is referred to as a demand letter. If a law practitioner drafts it is referred to an attorney demand letter. Through his or her representative, a client offers the viable option(s) of handling the issue from their perspective and expects the accused to honour else the client is to take legal action against them.
What is an Attorney Demand Letter
An attorney demand letter is an official letter urging a one party (company, person, or institution) to fulfill their obligations as per an agreement, purchase, customer-client policy, or compensate in case of malpractice. It is taken as the final step before a party takes legal action.
A demand letter allows you as the attorney to state the wrongdoings done to you and how you wish the accused would rectify the wrongs. You can include the suitable options you want the person to consider as ways to settle the dispute. A demand letter offers a platform where two disputing parties can table their differences and develop a solution for the same.
Common Demand Letters Sent by an Attorney
Demand letters vary with each situation and are referred as per the dispute. For example, a demand letter to collect a debt is referred to as a collection of debt demand letter. Some types of demand letters have more legal implications than others, however, they are all eligible for presentation in a court of law should then dispute proceed to litigation.
The following are some of the various types;
Breach of contract
Under this category, a demand letter is written. One party of a contract’s signatories fails to meet their obligations as per the agreement or conduct themselves against the set terms and conditions. A demand letter establishes your legal rights to claim for damages. You should ensure that the claim made falls under a term where the aggrieved party has the right to claim for damages. Contracts can include different types of conditions such as precedent or subsequent. Contract terms are of various types, such as warranty and innominate terms, which states one can claim damages if some condition comes to pass. Therefore, before writing a demand letter, please familiarize yourself with all the dynamics revolving around the contract. Sometimes, the accused could be well within their rights to act as they are.
Collection of a debt
Demand letters are used in debt collection. This usually happens when there was an agreement that a certain amount was to be paid to a party at a given time. When the debtor fails to meet the set-out deadline, the creditor is well within their rights to claim the debt. An illustration of such a case is when a tenant defaults on rent payments and a landlord is forced to take the necessary steps to collect. The landlord can draft a demand letter to his or her tenants demanding payment, or else they will take legal measures. In such a case, a demand letter is crucial as specific laws protect tenants against eviction. As a landlord, this would be a safer approach to avoid potential lawsuits in the future.
In a society with an ocean of activities, injuries are prone to happen at one point or another, either by accident or inflicted. Such cases include road accidents, injuries at the workplace, domestic violence, bullying, or violent conduct. Taking the construction worker’s scenario, he or she is exposed to heavy machinery, potentially inflicting harm if left unattended. Therefore, an injury could be by accident or out of negligence; if either happens, the contracting company is obligated to cater for the worker’s medical bills and compensate for the worker’s basic needs during the recovery period. In some situations, companies tend to neglect the workers, necessitating the workers to seek legal counsel where a demand letter is written as the final warning before the matter can be tabled in front of a judge.
In some cases, insurance settlements take longer than expected or seldom do. When a policyholder formally requests an insurance company for compensation or coverage of a policy occurrence, he or she is said to have made an insurance claim. When the insurer does not fulfil this, a policyholder should write a demand letter stating the losses incurred or the policy event and how much he expects to be covered. This, backed by any evidence of the event such as receipts or pictures, can be presented in a law court to support his claim if the insurer opts not to settle out of court.
Malpractice is the improper or unethical conduct by a professional, such as a physician or official person, resulting in injury or loss. Negligence is considered malpractice in most professions. Some of the medical malpractices include surgical errors, misdiagnosis, and medication errors. These actions are more likely than not to have harmful effects, as grave as death, to the victim. In such a case, the victim is legally allowed to demand compensation. Sometimes medical institutions are reluctant to take responsibility. Therefore, you as a victim should take the initiative and consult your attorney to write a demand letter before filing any lawsuits.
Litigation is the conduct of one or more parties filing a case, where two or more people disagree in court. Pending litigation is a written notice asserting a party’s legal obligation to fulfil a legal action; else, a court will have to be involved, that is through the final judgment if the legal right is not granted. This means that a complaint/lawsuit must be filed in court; however, the final order is yet to be reached. Since you could be offering options that are more lenient than those expected in case the court rules against the defendant, they are more likely to agree to settle out of court if the chance presents itself.
In law, personal property is often referred to as mobile property-any that can move from one point to another. Examples include furniture, home electronics, vehicles, and collectibles. Sometimes they can change possession through misplacement, theft, or lost. Where courtesy requests for the property’s return have failed, you can demand their recovery through a demand letter before taking legal action. However, when writing the letter, you must be able to prove ownership of the said property, for example, through receipts, a witness, or any other information, as sometimes ownership is defined by how much you can prove. It would be advisable to familiarize yourself with the laws touching on ownership of the property in question.
Settlement can be defined as a contractual agreement between parties to actual or potential litigation by which each party agrees to a resolution of the underlying dispute. A settlement demand letter is usually offered as a counteroffer after the claimant sent a demand letter before a lawsuit is filed. In the settlement, you outline a factual summary of the dispute with evidence to support your claims. Make sure you understand the request in monetary and accurate terms before making an offer. Include your conditions and time frame for acceptance. The proposal should be enticing to the claimant but reasonable on your side. A settlement is not an admission to guilt; therefore, choose your words wisely. It is important to let the claimant know they will have to sign a confidentiality agreement before disbursing settlement.
Components of a Good Attorney Demand Letter
A good demand letter should contain the following components;
Sender’s Address and Date
At the very beginning, the letter should indicate who sent the letter. For example, if it is a law firm, it should declare which by giving their name, address, and other relevant information. The date when you, as the writer, are making the claims should be indicated in the letter.
The letter recipient should appear, including information such as address. The subject being referred to should be highlighted in fewer words.
The Body of the Letter
The next part of the letter is the body; here, a client or their representative outlines their claims in detail where possible, as some contracts may limit the amount of information one party can share. This includes specific dates when transactions or events took place, the wrongdoing which one is protesting, and the amount in figures they are asking. One can attach receipts and copies of invoices and other relevant information to demonstrate the amount owed.
You should include terms that you see fit per situation as deadlines.
Finally, you should leave contact information where the person/organization can negotiate, enquire, or settle as per the set terms. This is then followed by the closing/signature and any additional information about the sender such as lawyer’s position in the firm.
How to Write an Attorney Demand Letter
As an attorney you want your demand letter to be professional and and efficient, to achieve this you can follow this procedure.
If as an attorney you are required to craft a demand letter, you should carry out some research concerning the case to obtain facts for example reviewing documents and studying the laws that the dispute cuts across. You should ensure that you are factual as the letter can potentially end up in court as evidence if the accused does not meet the set date’s demands. Non-factual information can compromise the integrity of your case in front of a judge.
Identify the claimant and the accused
Firstly, let the recipient know who the letter is from by indicating the attorney and/or firm’s name and address. Makes sure to include the date when the letter was issued.
Secondly, indicate who the letter is addressed to (accussed), their name, and address. This helps specify who is being accused of the wrongdoing (s) to be addressed in the letter.
State the demand/claim
The first paragraph should include details about the dispute, such as date of occurrence, obligations unfulfilled and prior expectations in the letter body.
Describe the reason(s) for the demand
You should explain in what ways has the accused violated previous agreements or any action that the claimant claims there was some wrong doing. Cite evidence to support your claims. If there are documents such as receipts, letters, invoices attached, you should let the accused be aware at this point. Monetary claims should be indicated in figures.
Outline the terms and legal consequences
You should offer the terms and conditions you expect the accused to observe if they are to settle the matter out of court. Indicate the possible options they can consider. You can quote the various acts the accused is in violation of.
Provide contact information
Outline the convenient ways the accused can contact, whether it is by calling or via email. This is important as they might be open to negotiations, offers, and other queries.
Since the letter is meant to solve a dispute between two parties, it is vital to keep it polite as the goal is to reach an agreement and not aggravate the situation. A polite language tends to be more persuasive.
Demand Letter from an Attorney Template
___ [Name of Law Firm or Representative]
___ [Street Address]
_ [Street Address]
Dear Mr./Mrs ___ [debtor],
Re: Subject matter/ claims
We are writing this letter to inform you that the order [batch no.] is way past its due delivery date [date] as agreed on upon purchase by___________ [claimant’s name].
The order was of __ [items purchased in detail] costing [total cost]. Attached are the receipts of the purchase. We hereby ask that delivery of the same or refund of the amount paid be done by [date]. Kindly adhere to either of the options, as failure to do so will leave us no choice but take the matter to court. If such is the case, you will be expected to cater for legal and any other costs.
If you have any questions or wish to contact us kindly, please do so through _ [contact information].
_____ [Name of attorney]
_____ [Position in the firm and name of law firm]
How Much to Charge as a Lawyer
The amount charged by an attorney is dependent on a few factors, that include;
- His place of residence- different states quote different allowable prices an attorney can charge for a particular. This fee, however, varies with the type of case.
- Scope of case- cases with a large scope like one that involves a large corporation(s) commands a higher price than a case between two individuals.
- Size of the firm- large firms ask for a higher amount of fee than small firms or independent lawyers. Small firms charge between $1000 and $1500, and these increases for large firms could go into the ranges of $3000 and $5000.
- Normal charging rates for independent lawyers- the amount charged for writing a demand letter will vary from one lawyer to another. The price tends to increase with experience and reputation.
Demand Letter from Attorney – Samples
The following are samples of demand letters in different scenarios
Sample attorney letter for collection of debt
January 5th 20XX
Manager Arena Printers Company,
55 Brooksby Village Way,
Danvers, MA 1923
Dear Mrs. Brooks,
I am writing to inform Arena Printers that payment for the invoice <attached>, which was promised latest December 20th, 2020, is long past due.
The order was for ten XD400 printers amounting to $1150 delivered to your offices on December 5th, 2020. We, Major Electronics, have tried to reach out via email but to no avail. I request that the total outstanding amount be paid by January 20th. Please take this as the final notice before we pursue other legal options.
It is not in our interest for this matter to be tabled in front of a judge; however, we will have no choice but to pursue the same if the payment is not made fully on the mentioned date. Any costs accrued will be added to the already existing debt.
Manager Major Electronics Ltd
Sample attorney letter for medical malpractice
Harlem & Hayden Consultancy Firm,
872 Route 13,
Cortland Ville, NY 13045
January 29th, 20XX
Dr. Garry Holmes,
Chief Medical Officer,
141 Washington Ave Extension
Albany, NY 12205
Re: Legal Action Against Your Company
We represent Ms. Ashley Mathers, a client of yours for the past year, who has cited medical malpractice against her son David Morrison. This claim is against staff member: Judy Allen, a nurse in your clinic.
On January 15th, 20XX, Ms. Mathers brought her son for his third vaccination shot. The nurse on duty, Mrs. Allen, asked for the necessary information and checked Mr. Morrison’s report on the clinic computer and claimed to have obtained it whereby she proceeded to administer the shot.
After 14 days, Ms. Mathers’ son fell sick. The symptoms included high fever, persistent headaches, and paling of the eyes. Our client took her son for a checkup to St. John hospital, where he was admitted for ten days after the head doctor Dr. Craig Warden determined the cause of illness as the administration of expired medication. After multiple attempts by Ms. Mathers to reach out to the clinic administration requesting an official apology and compensation for the accrued medical bills, your organization continues to disregard her calls and emails.
Consider this as a pre-litigation gesture to solve the pending matter outside of a law court. Attached are receipts from the hospital and one from Ms. Mathers’s visit to your clinic, with the nurse’s name and signature in charge on the date aforementioned. Should you seek more information or clarifications on this claim, kindly contact us at 220552-339.
Senior Associate| Harlem & Hayden Consultance
Sample attorney letter for breach of contract
Harvey & Sons Associates
3186 Hwy 171 North,
Fayette, AL 35555
November 24th, 20XX
3100 Hough Rd,
Florence, AL 35630
Re: Breach of contract
Dear Mr. Jefferson,
As representatives of Marvel Motors, we write this letter informing you that you are in violation of the hire purchase agreement you agreed on with my client on June 1st, 2020, on purchasing a Mazda Note car model 604.
You have violated section II of part 1 of the agreement, whose violation states that upon defaulting, we are to confiscate the product in question until the person pays the balance per the initial contract. It is to our knowledge that our client gave you a 40 days’ notice that ended on November 20th. Our client would like to inform you that the vehicle will be seized two days after this letter has been delivered. This will give you two days to clear your arrears or avail yourself at our offices to make new arrangements with our client, out of court. In case of any queries concerning this matter, please reach out to us at +444512553.
Associate| Harvey & Sons associates
As a claimant or claimant representative, where do I begin when crafting a demand letter? Well, the simplest way to manoeuvre this is by acquiring a demand letter template and customizing it to suit your situation. A free downloadable template has been provided for our readers in a formal format, including all the mandatory information you should include. Download now and get started!
When and Why will Your Help be Needed as an Attorney
There are various instances when a claimant will be necessitated to seek legal counsel. This is especially when there are grave legal implications should the demand not materialize.
An attorney, being familiar with the law and its applications in different situations, comes in handy when drafting a demand letter in terms of the details that should be included or not. Demand letters are presented in court as evidence of the events throughout the dispute; therefore, they should be written in a clear and intentional language. An attorney helps determine where legal rights have been violated and identifies which laws or policies a client can make demands based on.
When an attorney crafts a demand letter, they can include a legal letterhead, which has a stronger convincing power. This makes your intentions clear from the beginning. Since no one wants the case to go to court in most cases, the letterhead motivates the accused to reach out before any further legal action.
Should the dispute proceed to court, an attorney helps develop the letter to meet the standards that would see it fit to be presented as evidence; that is, it must be impersonal, professional and free of ambiguity, demonstrating its intended purpose, claim for damages.
Claimants involve legal counsel in the following instances; when there is a certainty that their legal rights have been violated, where lawyer fees do not exceed the damage claims or compensation by a huge margin and when they are dealing with large corporations/organizations as accusations in such a case are usually against the organization itself rather than an individual.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a demand letter a legal document?
A demand letter becomes a legal document when the two parties agree on a settlement and when the case proceeds to court. It is taken as legal evidence of events leading up to the lawsuit.
How much does an attorney charge for a demand letter?
How much an attorney will charge you depend on various factors such as the size of the law firm, charging rates of the lawyer, extent to which the case is complicated, and claimant’s place of residence.
Can a demand letter be sent by email?
Yes. You can choose to send a demand letter via email, or whichever means accessible and convenient for you.
Should I keep a copy of the letter for my records?
Yes. You are advised to keep a copy of the demand letter as the claimant, so that should the other party choose not to honor your demands, you can present it in a law court with the rest of the evidence.
Before taking legal action, a claimant should consider trying to resolve the dispute outside of court, especially against giant corporations whose influence. This is because lawsuits sometimes can be costly, and should the case not stand in court, you would have to incur the costs yourself. It is important to note that demand letters only become legal only if the case is presented in a court of law.