5 Reasons You Should Write A Demand Letter Before You File a Lawsuit
If you are preparing to file a lawsuit, your first inclination might be to hire an attorney — or if you plan to represent yourself in the case ("pro se" or "pro per") — you might be ready to head to the courthouse to file your complaint.
Before you rush into a civil lawsuit, consider these five reasons why writing a formal demand letter might be a better first option.
1. Filing a Lawsuit Is a Big Hassle
Whether you hire an attorney to represent you or you are representing yourself in a lawsuit, there is nothing easy about the process. It is a lengthy ordeal from start to finish. You'll have to file a complaint, attend court hearings, possibly pay for depositions before the case goes to trial, gather evidence, build your case, file and oppose motions, and do a lot of waiting.
And, somewhere during the process — your case will probably settle outside of court anyway — just like 95% of lawsuits filed in the United States. Some of these cases even settle after the trial is over but while an appeal is pending
You might be able to avoid all these hassles by presenting your legal demands in a letter to your opponent before you file your lawsuit.
2. Your Opponent (Probably) Doesn't Want You to File A Lawsuit
No one wants to get sued. If you're not sure why: see #1.
It is even possible that your opponent doesn't know that you have an issue that needs resolving. You might be steaming mad over the money you lent to your great uncle Sam, the rent deposit you didn't get back, or the unpaid invoices you've sent out — but the offending party may have forgotten all about it.
A formal demand letter can stir up the memory and remind the offending party that you have a legitimate claim against them — and that you are willing to take them to court if necessary to recover the damages.
Learn more about four common kinds of demand letters.
3. Attorney's Fees Can Be Very Expensive
Not only are lawsuits a hassle, but they can also be extremely costly — especially if you plan to hire an attorney. Attorney's fees can range anywhere from $150 to $450 an hour — or more. And you will likely pay for every action your attorney takes, including consultations, filing the complaint, gathering evidence, conducting depositions, filing motions, negotiating settlements, and more.
Plus, if the case ends up at trial, your attorney's fees could get out of control.
A demand letter, if written well, may be able to get the same outcome as a trial — or even better — without the extra expense of attorney fees.
If you are intent on hiring an attorney (which is usually beneficial), you can have your attorney write a demand letter for you. If, however, you plan to represent yourself to save attorney's fees, consider investing some time learning how to draft a compelling and effective demand letter. You don't want to rely upon the poorly written demand letter samples circulating the Internet.
4. You Don't Have to Leave Your Case up to Chance
When you file a lawsuit and your case goes to trial, many factors will be outside of your control. You won't be able to control witness testimony, attempts to discredit your character, rules of evidence that might make your key evidence inadmissible in court, and more.
Ultimately, you are leaving the outcome of your case up to the judge or jury and numerous unknown factors. Also, a trial gives your opponent time to gather evidence that might weaken your case.
If you write a formal demand letter asking for fair and reasonable damages, you may be able to have more control over the outcome of your requests.
5. The Opposing Party Will Take Your Demands Seriously
When you put your demands or requests in writing, it instructs the opposing party that you are serious about seeking damages. They will know that you are willing to take them to court if necessary — something they will want to avoid for the same reasons listed above.
Lawsuits are a hassle. Your opponent knows that attorney's fees are costly, and they probably don't want to leave their fate in the hands of a jury.
A persuasive and well-written demand letter can save you both a lot of time, money, and inconvenience.
If you want to learn crucial elements to consider including in your pre-lawsuit demand letter that can increase your chances of getting a favorable result, check out Writing a Pre-Lawsuit Demand Letter.
The video tutorial will show you how to write a compelling and effective demand letter geared towards avoiding a costly trial. Plus, it includes a PDF guide and sample demand letter written to help you get started with the process.