If you are thinking of filing a lawsuit against a person, business or entity, you may want to consider first sending a demand letter.
What is a demand letter?
Simply put, a demand letter is just what it sounds like. It is a letter that is sent to the person, business or entity (that you wish to bring a lawsuit against) detailing the allegations against them and your intention to file a lawsuit against them if the allegations in the letter are not addressed. The demand letter should contain certain elements in order for it to be useful in resolving a dispute prior to initiating a lawsuit.
A demand should at least include the following:
1. Your contact information, such as name, address and a telephone number you can be reached at; 2. The name of the person, business or entity to which you are writing the demand letter to; 3. A detailed discussion of the incident that is the subject matter of the lawsuit you wish to file; 4. A detailed discussion of the accusations/allegations against the person, business or entity; 5. A detailed discussion of how and why the person, business, or entity is responsible; 6. A claim for the damages you are seeking; and 7. A deadline by which to respond to your demand letter.
It is important to remember that these are just some of the elements that should be included in a demand letter. It is NOT an exhaustive list.
First, you should always include your contact information so the person, business or entity can contact you regarding the demand letter.
Second, the name of the person, business or entity should also be included to ensure your demand letter ends up in the right place.
Third, you need to detail the incident that is causing you to write this demand letter. For example, if you are writing a demand letter because of a work-related injury, you need to explain, in detail, the facts surrounding the incident. You need to be as specific as possible in documenting the work-related injury and what happened. Detailed facts are important to a demand letter because it gives the person, business or entity all the facts needed to make a decision and respond to your letter.
Fourth, you need to detail the accusations/allegations against the person, business or entity. Your letter should state exactly what you are accusing the person, business or entity of doing. For example, using the above work-related injury, if that injury was a result of the Employer failing to fix a broken stair, you would be accusing the Employer of Negligence. Your demand letter should state you are accusing the Employer of Negligence in order to give the Employer notice of the severity of the letter and what the potential lawsuit would involve.
Fifth, you need to explain how and why the person, business, or entity is responsible. Using the above example, your demand letter needs to explain how and why the Employer is guilty of Negligence. You need to go through each requirement of Negligence and prove how the Employer is responsible. Doing this will show the Employer that he/she is liable for the work-related injury and that he/she could face huge liability if a lawsuit were filed. It might make the Employer more willing to settle.
Sixth, your demand letter should include a demand for damages. The whole point of a demand letter is to “demand” what you want. This is perhaps the most important aspect of a demand letter. You need to calculate all your economical losses (i.e., medical bills, loss of income, etc.) and non-economical losses (i.e., emotional distress) and come up with a figure that would make your whole again.
Seventh, you need to give a deadline by which to respond. At the end of your demand letter, you should include some sort of language that states, “YOU HAVE TEN (10) DAYS FROM RECEIPT OF THIS LETTER TO RESPOND. OTHERWISE A LAWSUIT WILL BE FILED AGAINST YOU.” This is just an example of the type of language you should include. You can make the deadline longer or shorter. But you should always give a deadline by which to respond so as to give the person, business or entity notice that you are serious about filing a lawsuit if the issues are not addressed/resolved.