Updated on March 27th, 2023
A letter of intent to sue (with settlement demand) is served on an individual to give them the opportunity to settle a dispute with the sender before a lawsuit is filed. Sometimes referred to as a pre-suit notice, pre-litigation letter, or demand letter, this document demonstrates that the sender (prospective plaintiff) is willing to settle with the recipient (prospective defendant) out of court as a show of good faith.
An intent to sue letter should have the addresses of both parties, a detailed description of the dispute, the settlement demand (e.g., payment amount, cease and desist, repair damages, etc.), the sender’s contact information, and the deadline for the proposed settlement.
LETTER OF INTENT TO SUE
[SENDER STREET ADDRESS]
[SENDER CITY, STATE, ZIP]
[RECIPIENT STREET ADDRESS]
[RECIPIENT CITY, STATE, ZIP]
RE: [SUBJECT MATTER]
This letter of intent to sue shall hereby be considered formal notice that [PLAINTIFF NAME] intends to file a lawsuit against you if you do not comply with the settlement demands set out in this letter.
The lawsuit that will be filed against you pertains to the following dispute: [DESCRIBE INCIDENT].
In order to avoid the lawsuit, you must comply with the following settlement demands: [EXPLAIN HOW TO SETTLE DISPUTE].
The settlement demands described above must be made by [MM/DD/YYYY], which is not later than [#] days after service of this letter. To discuss the settlement, please contact [CONTACT INFORMATION].
This letter is not intended to be a comprehensive statement of all relevant law and facts and should not be interpreted as a waiver or relinquishment of any of my rights or remedies, whether legal or equitable, all of which are hereby expressly reserved, including my right to all available remedies including, but not limited to, the recovery of costs and attorneys’ fees.
This letter shall be governed under the laws of the state of [STATE NAME].
[SENDER PRINTED NAME]
At the top of the form, a letter of intent should include the date the document was drafted and the names and addresses of both the sender (plaintiff) and the recipient (defendant).
To introduce the letter, the plaintiff can provide a short description before the introductory paragraph summarizing the subject matter of the document.
The first sentence should introduce the content of the letter: it is a letter of intent to sue, there was a dispute between the parties, and the dispute needs to be settled by the defendant or a lawsuit will follow.
The plaintiff should provide pertinent details of the incident between the parties. If applicable, they could add specific laws or regulations that have been broken.
The settlement section informs the defendant on how to remedy the situation before being sued, either through curing a default or paying a certain amount of money. Including the plaintiff’s contact information is helpful so the parties can negotiate and settle the dispute.
The settlement demand deadline establishes how much time the defendant has to comply with the LOI. Common deadlines are two weeks or one month, but the length of the deadline may be predetermined by the laws governing the dispute in question.
The plaintiff should include the state whose laws will govern the dispute between the parties should legal action be filed by the plaintiff.
A letter of intent to sue typically closes with a professional valediction (e.g., sincerely, regards, etc.) and the plaintiff’s signature.
Sending a letter of intent before taking someone to court can promote positive negotiations and, in some cases, might even be a legal requirement.
One of the main reasons for delivering an LOI before filing suit is that the plaintiff could save themselves time and money. Besides being expensive and time consuming for both parties, going through the legal system gives the defendant a chance to win the case.
Pre-suit notices are used frequently in the following situations:
- Outstanding client payments
- Poor or incomplete work by contractor
- Breach of contract
- Property damage
- Landlord refused to return security deposit
- Driver refused to pay for repairs in car accident
- Denied insurance claim
In some cases, plaintiffs are legally required to send the defendant an intent to sue letter before a lawsuit can be filed. Failure to do so may result in the court of law dismissing the plaintiff’s claim.
The laws pertaining to pre-suit notices vary greatly on federal, state, and local levels, so the plaintiff must determine (or hire an attorney to determine) the requirements before filing an action with the applicable court.
The list below contains several situations where a letter of intent to sue might be required by law:
- Claims involving consumer protection statutes.
- Complaints against insurance companies.
- Medical malpractice suits.
- Lawsuits against governmental bodies.
- The requirement was included in a legal agreement between the parties.
- Breach of warranty claim.
- Legal Counsel. It is not necessary to hire an attorney when sending a demand letter, but it may be advisable depending on the situation. An attorney can be effective in dealing with difficult defendants (e.g., those ignoring or refusing demands).
- Delivery. While typically not a legal obligation, certified mail helps prove that the defendant did receive a physical copy of the letter. This may be useful later if the plaintiff needs to file an action with the court
- Language. A letter of intent to sue should be written in professional and polite language. Any verbal attacks on the defendant may result in a judge ruling in the other party’s favor should the dispute go to court.
- Length. The letter needs to clearly and concisely describe the dispute and settlement demand while keeping it an appropriate length (typically not more than one page).