How do I go about sending a letter requesting an out-of-court settlement to someone I can potentially sue?
May 30, 2012 10:59 PM   Subscribe

At the advice of counsel, I need to send a letter to a party I thought about suing suggesting we settle a personal injury case out of court. The lawyer is out of the picture for now, otherwise it'll cost me money. So... how do I do that?

I consulted a lawyer about a personal injury matter. He said that before I retain his services, I should send the potential defendant a letter asking/suggesting that we "reach an agreement without getting counsel involved." He says his legal services and the case will cost a lot of money and his professional opinion is that this case can be settled between the two parties without lawyers involved.

I wish I could have asked the lawyer the questions I am about to ask you, but alas, that would have cost me (he didn't charge anything to look at the case and call me on the phone with his advice).

How do I go about sending someone a letter like that? What is that letter even called? Is there protocol I need to follow? A template I can use? Can I email, or should I snail-mail it? Who do I send it to, and cc?
posted by Opal to Law & Government (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is there an insurance company involved?
posted by lee at 11:44 PM on May 30, 2012

Send it certified mail.
posted by pearlybob at 12:53 AM on May 31, 2012

You go back to that lawyer, or to another, and tell them you want to hire them by the hour, and that you're only hiring them to write a demand letter. Once they write it, then you're done with that lawyer.

Look, the lawyer will charge somewhere between $150 - $400 an hour, but it shouldn't take more than an hour or two of their time to write such a letter (if even that much). I assume the dollar value of your dispute is great enough that a few hundred dollars would probably be well spent in that fashion. If not, then, well, figure out a letter you can send yourself, like the first answer in this post.

What the lawyer was _probably_ saying is that if you hired them to represent you on a contingency basis, it would likely be a money-loser to you because your lawyer would take 25 percent or 33 percent of the settlement, even if he or she only put in 2 or 5 or 10 hours of work. So don't do it on a contingency, do it by the hour, and make sure to have a written fee contract.

This is not legal advice. I detest personal injury law and I am not your lawyer.
posted by Happydaz at 1:20 AM on May 31, 2012 [5 favorites]

The less formal it looks, the less seriously they'll take it, as a general proposition.

They will take it much more seriously if it comes from an attorney. Particularly if the other party does have an attorney or is covered by an insurance company with lawyers, it may well be to your financial benefit to pay the attorney just what it would cost to write this letter and possibly also to negotiate the payment once the other party responds. You have to pose a credible threat. If you don't have a lawyer, they'll give less weight to the possibility of you filing a lawsuit.
posted by slidell at 6:58 AM on May 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

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