Should I sue the other party?

Updated: Apr 26

Sometimes when people borrow money or property from you, they don’t repay you or return the property. When the value of the loan or the property is high enough, you may want to sue them.

Suing someone, even in small claims court (which is meant to be relatively cheap and easy), takes time and money. Whether you win or lose, the process is stressful. If the person you intend to sue is a family member or a friend, it will be even more stressful. Plus, bringing a lawsuit against someone you know well could damage that relationship beyond repair.

Before you decide to sue, there are steps you can and should take to try to resolve the issue in a friendly way, without going through the court system. Keep a neatly written record of everything you do. Include the date and time, and what you intended to do, as well as what actually happened. These notes will be very helpful if you eventually decide to sue.

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Resolve the Problem in a Friendly Way

1. Speak with the person Although you are upset that the agreement has not gone smoothly, there may be a good explanation. Before you say or do something you later regret, try to find out what is going on with the person. Perhaps an illness or unexpected death in the family has happened. Be willing to hear something that you never considered as a possibility.

2. If you have a written agreement, be willing to amend it If you are willing to accept the reason for the delay, revise the written contract with the new terms of your agreement. Make two copies. Both of you need to sign both copies so that you each have a signed original agreement.

3. If your agreement was verbal, put it into writing If all you had up to now was a verbal agreement, and if you accept the reason for the delay, now is the time to put all of the terms into writing.

Include all the facts and events so far, and be sure to include the old and the new terms of repayment. Make two copies. Both of you need to sign both copies so that you each have a signed original agreement.

The above assumes that you speak with the person and resolve the dispute. Or, at least, that you are satisfied for now with the new plan.

But if you were unsuccessful for any reason, then it is time to go to the next step.

Create and Send a Formal Written Demand Letter

The next step is to send a written demand for payment, known as a demand letter.

A Demand Letter is an important document for two reasons. First, it might produce a successful resolution of your issue, saving you the trouble of going to court. But if you do have to go to court, then the second reason is that the judge needs to see evidence that you tried to resolve the situation before you file your lawsuit.

If the other person does not agree to the demand letter, it will be time to go to the next step and ask yourself some tough questions.

Answer Three Tough Questions

1. Do you have the time to sue this person? You need to devote time to gathering information, such as sorting through all your papers to find receipts and/or documents related to the agreement, putting together your case to convince the judge your story is correct and possibly figuring out a lot of details such as finding witnesses and eventually appearing in court.

2. Do you have the money to spend on a lawsuit? It costs money to file a claim, and it costs money to serve the notice of the lawsuit on the person you are suing. While you might be able to get these costs paid to you if you win, you must have the funds available to you to spend before you even step foot inside the courtroom.

3. Are you willing to risk damaging or losing the relationship over this issue? Oftentimes, the parties involved in a lawsuit have a personal relationship. Lawsuits can damage a relationship, so it is up to you to decide whether you care to preserve your relationship with the other party.

If you answer Yes to all three questions, you are ready to prepare your case.

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Quest for Justice (Q4J)'s first product, JusticeDirect Demand Letter, will help people without lawyers draft and send a customized letter demanding payment, free of charge. Rather than use a generic sample demand letter or a template, JusticeDirect will guide users step-by-step to prepare and send, via USPS Certified Mail, a professional and personalized demand letter. The system helps users avoid common mistakes that often delay justice. Whether you are owed money or you are not happy with services or goods you already paid for, sending a detailed and professional demand letter is the first step to being taken seriously in the legal process and getting the justice you deserve. A simple, fast, and effective way to get your money back.

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