What to Do When You Receive an Attorney Demand Letter

Person opening a safe at a bank because of an attorney letter.

You walk to your mailbox to check your daily mail.

Underneath the various bills, invoices, and sale coupons, you notice an envelope from a law firm. You open the envelope to find a formal five-page letter accusing you of deplorable actions, citing various code violations and legalese, and demanding that you fork over $1,000,000 in 30 days or you are going to get sued.

How do you respond? Throw the letter in the trash? Call the attorney and give her a piece of your mind?

We suggest you take the following steps:

1. Breathe: The allegations in the letter will likely make you angry and emotional, especially if you understand the allegations to be blatantly false. Take a deep breath and calm yourself down. Recognize that the opposing attorney has written a letter based solely on her client’s point of view and is not aware of your position yet. The opposing attorney may change her tune after receiving a thoughtful response letter.

2. Turn the letter into your insurance company, if applicable: Does the demand letter relate to a car accident you were involved in? Does it relate to a slip and fall or dog bite incident taking place on the premises of your property? These events may trigger coverage under your auto or homeowner insurance policies. If so, your insurer may provide a legal defense and handle your case up to the amounts of your liability policy limits.

3. Consult an attorney to draft a response letter: If the value of the claim exceeds your liability insurance policy limits, or involves non-insurance related claims such as breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, or other causes of action, consult an experienced civil litigation attorney as soon as possible. Demand letters can trigger statutes and have significant legal ramifications.  It is crucial to respond to the demand letter in a timely matter. Moreover, having an attorney draft a well-crafted response letter may make the opposing side think twice before filing suit. It can also set the stage for bringing the matter to a swift resolution.

Hammerle Finley Law Firm. Give us a call. We can help.

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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.