Very few people are ever happy to receive a subpoena calling them to court. What many people may not be expecting is a demand letter. A demand letter is exactly what it sounds like – a formal letter demanding something of another party. They can come to a business from a disgruntled former employee, or to an individual from someone who thinks they have caused them financial or physical harm. Demand letters are not legally binding – rather, they often demand that compensation be issued and threaten going to court if it is not issued.
You are not legally required to respond to a demand letter, but that does not mean you should just brush it off. Here are 6 things you should do if you receive a demand letter:
- Take It Seriously. There can be serious consequences for completely ignoring a demand letter. The letters frequently include a timeframe for you to respond in, such as a few days or weeks. If you don’t respond in that time, they may pursue litigation against you. If they do take you to court, the fact that you didn’t respond at all will not reflect well on you. Even if you think the threat of litigation is hollow, taking the demand letter seriously is your best option.
- Be Honest With Yourself. It is natural to be defensive when anyone brings up any kind of conflict with you. However, it is important to allow yourself to properly and objectively assess the threat the demand letter may pose to you. Is it truly baseless? Can you understand where the other party may be coming from? What would other people think of the claims made in the letter?
- Consider the Evidence. If you have any sort of evidence corresponding to the claims made in the demand letter, protect it and hold on to it. For instance, if a contractor sends you a demand letter for underpaying them, and you have pictures of them doing a poor or incomplete job, double-check and keep it.
- Consider an Offer. When responding to a demand letter, there are more options than just denying or agreeing to the terms spelled out. If you feel that you can make a claim against the individual as well, consider making a counteroffer. Being willing to do this sort of negotiation and compromise speaks well of you.
- Speak to a Lawyer. If you have received a demand letter, you want to seek legal advice before responding. A lawyer will know how all of your actions will look in the court, both the ones you have already taken and the ones you take in response to a letter. Don’t risk the damage of responding on your own.
- Verify Receipt. When you do send your response to the demand letter, make sure you verify that it was received by the other party. These types of verification services can be utilized on digital and physical letters. Make sure you have evidence that the other party received it.
Getting a demand letter may come as a surprise, but it isn’t something to just brush off. If you need legal advice, contact Capshaw & Associates today. We will always treat you with courtesy and respect.