Your employer wrongfully terminated you. Your neighbor’s lights are glaring into your eyes in the middle of the night. Your landlord won’t return your security deposit. Your tenant won’t pay their rent. Your insurance company is refusing to honor a valid claim. Your ex-husband stole money from you. Your neighbor’s tree fell on your house and they’re refusing to pay for your damages. Your client owes you $35,000 in invoices. You were mislead during a sale and it cost you thousands. I could go on, and on, and on! I bet you’re upset and want to do something about it. First thing you think – “I’ll sue your ass!”.

If you’re thinking about a lawsuit against someone, you might want to reconsider...the reality is, it's an exhausting, lengthy and costly process you'll want to avoid whenever possible. You might be surprised to learn that a well-written, fact-filled demand letter can often actually net you a greater return than any courtroom could!

Did you know that 90% of cases never make it to a courtroom? 90% are settled prior to a lawsuit being filed. Maybe 5% are settled right before or during arbitration/mediation. Nine out of ten cases are settled without a judge, without a courtroom, without a jury, and without a mediator.

The other 5% do make it to court where they risk losing their case and get nothing, and worse - oftens find themselves in a position to be hit with a counter-suit.

So what can you do? The very first step to being made whole in your situation is to show that you are ready to get what you are owed by sending your legal demand letter. You must be direct. You must be clear. You must be ready to sue - but don’t go and file just yet! You will need a licensed attorney to send your demand letter, otherwise, you’ll weaken your position and your ability to negotiate your settlement. The truth is, without a licensed attorney's signature behind your demand, the letter will essentially be nothing more than a home-made wish list with empty threats.


What is an "attorney" demand letter?

Very simply: A demand letter is a document that gives formal notice to another party that you are considering legal action. Most demand letters contain a demand for money, property or other forms of remedy. And in this case, the letter is drafted and delivered by a licensed attorney.


What’s the purpose of a demand letter?

The purpose of a demand letter is to give the recipient formal notice that you are considering legal action, a lawsuit, or some other action against them if they do not comply with your request. It makes them stop and realize that you are serious and ready to get what you want.


What makes a demand letter effective?

An effective demand letter has the following: facts, demands, and consequences. It’s signed and sealed by a licensed attorney. It looks and feels professional and elicits emotion. It lists consequences you are willing to act on and that are realistic and believable. That’s it. If it’s missing any of these components, it will fail.

Some attorneys will tell you to be “polite”. If you’re sending a justified demand letter, "Polite" is not a requirement in our opinion. Don’t be a jerk. Be serious. Only serious, factual and powerful letters are what we're interested in having sent out, I’m not suggesting that we get mean and nasty - there’s a big difference.

I’ve reviewed hundreds of letters. Yes, every once in a while, a letter can be effective even if it’s filled with lies. These letters are not effective in gaining compliance. Those letters are often met with a letter sent by the recipients attorney – and are often very good at debunking most of the nonsense that was sent to their client.

The most EFFECTIVE demand letters contain the following elements:

• Honest, hard facts
• A plantiff that's willing to sue and the recipient knows it
• A reasonable demand


Does it matter if the licensed attorney is in my area?

This is a very interesting question and contrary to conventional thinking, the answer is no. No, it doesn't matter. Most recipients are blinded by simply having received the letter and if the case is serious enough, if the letter is filled with hard facts, if the recipient knows your ready to sue them as is indicated in the letter, the location of the attorney makes absolutely no difference in the outcome of your case.

In fact, in all of our research, we found that having an attorney from either New York City or Los Angeles has netted the greatest results.

Start with the history, build your case

Beginning, middle, end. Just like a good story. The better you are at building your case, the more powerful the letter is, the greater probability of a successful settlement. Build your case!

The recipient might not agree with your version of the story or even remember the facts of the case, so it’s important to tell your side of the story in a way that’s easy to digest. Provide details, contract dates, events, people, financials, etc. Explain how things got to the point they’re at. Provide enough information to support your claim without writing a novel. Include photos, invoices and any other physical evidence

Exhibits have been key in many of the cases I’ve reviewed. It’s tough for the recipient to look at a photo of evidence and not start day dreaming about such photos being reviewed in a courtroom. Send the invoices, photos, or any other key tangible evidence you can with the letter.


End with your damages and intentions to sue

End strong. Include a list of damages you have already incurred or those you will incur in the future as a result of whatever the situation is. Be as specific, accurate and reasonable as possible. Explain how you calculated the damages if it’s not immediately obvious. Most importantly, make sure to tie the recipients conduct or actions to the damages. If you can’t tie the recipient in, you will most likely fail to receive a positive response.

Let the recipient know you’re ready to file the lawsuit. BUT….you’re doing your best to avoid taking this action because it’s going to cost both parties a fortune in court fees, attorney fees and time. Lawsuits are an expensive endeavor and should be avoided at all costs. That said, you’re ready to file if need be.


Does it matter if I send it to the recipient or their attorney?

Absolutely. Here’s the thing. If you send it to an individual, it may eventually make it into the hands of an attorney. But if you send it to an attorney, you’re guaranteed an attorney will read it. Attorneys read these letters all the time

Most attorneys are sophisticated enough to read through the bullshit. You should strongly consider language used, your tone, etc. when sending to an attorney vs. an individual you know and have a personal relationship with.


Things you shouldn’t do…

Don’t use a demand letter to extort from the recipient, accuse the recipient of crimes they did not commit, mention committing a crime against them, or threaten to stalk, harass, hurt, injure or kill the recipient. Don’t do these things. Don’t threaten to defame or slander, disgrace, humiliate or cause any damage to the recipient whatsoever. The consequences are obvious and need no further explanation. Don’t do it.


What’s the average national cost of a demand letter?

The national average cost of a demand letter when hiring a law firm is about $1,400. It’s probably just shy of that number. It’s not cheap. Most attorneys charge $250/hour and spend 5 hours on your case to generate and send the letter.

The good news is there are options. Better options, faster options, cheaper options, more effective options. LetterDash partners with attorneys to draft and send your letter out for only $199. Letters all come from a licensed attorney and they’re all signed and sealed by that same attorney, on their company letterhead. LetterDash is just as effective, if not more, than hiring an attorney directly.

Attorneys are busy people. LetterDash has a system in place that allows letters to be drafted and delivered in days, not weeks, which is normally the case unfortunately.


Is a demand letter considered a “legal service”?

No.


Can a non-attorney draft and send a demand letter for you?

Yes but as already explained, you would be making a fatal error in drafting it yourself or having a non-attorney draft and send a letter on your behalf. Hire an attorney or use LetterDash to hire one for you.


Why would I want or need to have a demand letter sent?

There are a million reasons but here are the top letter subjects we come across most often:

• Express an intent to sue
• Negotiate, bargain or force compliance
• Breach of Contract issues
• Employer/Employment/Wage issues
• Cease and Desist
• Collection Efforts
• Landlord/Tenant issues
• Slander/Harrassment/Stalking
• Return of property
• End illegal activity or annoyances
• Neighbor problems
• Car accidents
• Personal injury cases
• Medical malpractice
• Ex-husband / Ex-boyfriend problems
• Client defamation
• Wrongful termination
• Municipal complaint
• Real Estate issues
• HOA complaints


Be reasonable, be a winner

Be reasonable with your demands. Make sure to have a realistic conversation with your attorney before sending the letter. I found that the successful letters were the ones that were reasonable with their demands, they were filled with facts and demonstrated honesty. The letters that asked for insane demands ultimately fell on their face, no one took them seriously and nothing ever came to fruition.


And finally…

And finally, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can settle a case on your own. If you had a licensed attorney send the demand letter, then try to step in and finish it off, you will lose power, you will weaken your position and you will ultimately fail. It shows the other party you’re cheap and willing to cut corners to save a buck. It shows the other party you’re not really going to sue and you’re not a serious person.