Writing a Complaint or Demand Letter

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Writing a Complaint or Demand Letter

When legal issues arise, often the best first step is to write a complaint or demand letter to the party at fault for the problem. This guide will help walk you through how to draft an effective letter that may help you resolve your legal issue.

Names, Dates, and Addresses

First, it is important to identify to whom you are sending the letter. This may be a specific individual or a general department of a company. If you are dealing with a larger entity, like a company, it may be best to call ahead of time and determine which department or individual can best help you with your issue and what their mailing address is.

In addition, in the letter, you should be sure to include your name, the date, your return address, and other contact information.

Clearly Identify the Problem or Purpose of the Letter

You should clearly and concisely identify the problem or purpose of the letter. If there are multiple issues, it may be helpful to state how many issues you are writing about and list them. For example, if you are writing a complaint letter to a person at fault for causing a personal injury, you could state that you are writing to recover medical expenses and other costs related to the injury.

Concisely State Factual History and Relevant Information

Once you have identified the issue, it is important to include any factual history or other information relevant to the problem that will be helpful to your reader. In the personal injury example, one should include the date the injury took place, the date(s) of any hospital visits, and the amount of each hospital bill or other related expenses.

Often, it is helpful to attach documents evidencing the relevant information. In the personal injury example it would be good to attach copies of the medical bills and other expenses to prove their amounts.

Clearly Identify a Resolution

You should clearly state what you want from your reader. There shouldn’t any ambiguity as to what resolution(s) you are requesting. In the personal injury example, the letter would likely state exactly how much money is being requested for medical bills and other expenses.

Here, your letter should also provide reasonable deadlines for your reader. For example, you may give them two weeks to respond to the letter or 30 days to make a payment, or whatever other deadlines suit your needs.

Identify What Will Happen Next

Finally, in some instances it may be helpful to identify what you will do next if the reader doesn’t comply with your requests. For example, you could threaten to take legal action against the reader if they don’t comply, which may help motivate their response.

However, an adversarial threat may escalate conflict between you and your reader, which can be detrimental to the timely resolution of your problems. Thus, depending on the situation, it may be best to save legal threats for future letters if it becomes necessary.

Tone and Length

The tone of your letter should always be professional. Writing angry letters that attack the reader will only escalate conflict and will not resolve your issue.

The letter should be short and concise. Although you should always clearly state your problem, relevant facts, and solutions requested, you should avoid any repetitive or irrelevant information. Generally, the length of your letter will not be longer than a page or two unless absolutely necessary.

Contacting an Attorney

While one can sometimes write his or her own letter, every legal situation is different and may require professional assistance. An attorney can best evaluate your issue and help you draft a complaint letter or take other action to achieve your desired outcome.

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Last Modified: 03-09-2015 06:08 PM PDT

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