In litigation, most communication with an opposing party is by way of motions, pleadings, discovery requests, and the occasional email. But from time to time, a letter is necessary to communicate certain matters before or during litigation. Below, we discuss three of the most important party-to-party legal letters, including the letter of protection, the spoliation letter, and the demand letter.
Letter of Protection
Sometimes when a person is injured, their insurance company may not cover all of the medical expenses. If that person lacks funds to pay hospital and doctor bills right away, and if the injuries are someone else’s fault, the injured party may send creditors a letter of protection to stall collections. The letter of protection informs creditors that you intend to pay your bills and asks them to delay collection efforts until your litigation ends. For represented parties, an attorney will send the letter of protection. As a pro se litigant, you have to do it yourself, but it’s not difficult.
The letter of protection might state:
- that you intend to sue the responsible party or are currently litigating the matter;
- that you agree to pay all medical expenses owed for the injury out of any future money recovered from a settlement or judgment;
- if you do not recover money from the case, you still acknowledge your debt to the medical provider for treatment; and
- you will pay.
In short, the letter of protection delays collection of the debt and protects your credit.
Sample Letter of Protection
Below is a sample pro se letter of protection.
September 26, 2019
Dr. Catherine Gentry Orthopedic and Spine Institute 12345 E Main Street, Suite 33 Houston, TX 77009
Dear Dr. Gentry:
You provided me with medical care after a car accident on May 1, 2019. My bills were substantial, but my insurance company has paid most of them. I realize that there is a remaining balance and that I am responsible to you for the services you rendered whether I am compensated or not. However, I am confident I will get a cash settlement soon.
The purpose of this letter is to inform you that I am litigating my injury claim in Harris County Court. I am seeking compensation for the other driver’s negligence. You can be assured that when I do receive a cash settlement, any outstanding debts owed to you will be paid.
Thank you for your care in providing medical care to me and for your cooperation and patience as I try my case.
See another sample letter of protection here. Keep in mind that this second sample letter is written by attorneys for their clients. As a pro se litigant, you must adapt it to your own needs.
Spoliation or Legal Hold Letter
A spoliation letter is pre-litigation discovery. It is a notice sent to a party you intend to sue, requesting that certain evidence be preserved for discovery. Like other discovery tools, it should be very specific. The letter is typically used in cases involving trucking accidents or premises liability where a company maintains a variety of records and other information that may be needed to establish liability.
The letter must:
- briefly describe the incident resulting in liability;
- explain the purpose of the letter and provide instructions for complying with the request; and
- provide a numbered list of the items you want secured or preserved.
Sample Spoliation Letter
Below is a sample pro se spoliation letter.
September 26, 2019
Ms. Teresa Younger, Owner 4567 Maple Street Houston, TX 77009
Dear Ms. Younger:
This letter is to demand the preservation of certain evidence related to a May 1, 2019 accident on your premises at 4567 Maple Street, Houston, Texas 77005, in which I, Cory Rance, was injured by a box falling from a shelf unto my head. I request that the following evidence in your possession be maintained and preserved and not destroyed, modified, altered, repaired, or changed in any manner:
- Any and all reports of accidents at 4567 Maple Street Houston, Texas 77005 that caused harm or injury to persons within the past three (3) years and for one (1) month after the accident of May 1, 2019;
- All photographs, videos, audio or other recordings taken of the scene of the accident on the day of the accident;
- Any photographs, videos, audio or other recordings taken of the accident scene for the three (3) days before the accident and three (3) days following it;
- Any reports, memos, notes, logs or other documents evidencing complaints about your home;
- Contact information for all people working at your home on the day of the accident, including their location at the time of the accident and duties;
- Records of outdoor (grounds) safety measures in place at the time of the accident or any implemented since, including signage, photographs, videotapes, etc;
- Any home safety inspections, reports, or analyses conducted within the past three (3) years;
- Any and all available logs, reports or repair schedules for your home along with all supporting data;
- All statements, notes, audio or video recordings and other materials or things obtained from any person having information respecting this accident or who has knowledge of the circumstances.
If you fail to properly secure and preserve evidence listed above, it will give rise to the legal presumption that the evidence would have been harmful to your side of the case.
Furthermore, if you fail to preserve and maintain this evidence, I will seek any actions or sanctions available under the law. The destruction, alteration, or loss of any of the above constitutes a spoliation of evidence under Texas law Trevino v. Ortega, 969 S.W.2d 950, 952 (Tex. 1998).
See another sample spoliation letter here. Remember, as a pro se litigant, you must adapt it to your own needs.
A demand letter is an attempt to avoid litigation. Its goal is to induce a party who is liable for harm or injury to pay you a specified amount of money, take a particular action, or agree to refrain from certain acts.
In the letter, you should:
- in chronological order, list detailed relevant facts underlying your demand(s);
- specify your demand(s) precisely and explain the way you arrived at specific amounts;
- set a time limit in which to comply with your demand(s); and
- state that you will pursue legal remedies if the party fails to meet your demand(s).
Sample Demand Letter
Below is a sample pro se demand letter.
September 26, 2019
CBS CORPORATION SYSTEM INC. Registered Agent for Comfy Chair 12345 E Main Street, Suite 33 Houston, TX 77009
To Whom It May Concern:
On July 10, 2019, I financed a $2000 chair from Comfy Chair. At the time, your employees informed me verbally and in writing that I could return the chair with no penalties within 10 days.
Eight days after I bought the chair, I had second thoughts about spending the money. I called the finance company and Comfy Chair on July 18, 2019 at 5:13 pm and left messages saying that I needed to cancel the order and for them to pick up the chair. The following day, July 19, 2019, came and went, and I did not hear back from either company.
On July 20, 2019 at 7:09 a.m, I sent both companies an email telling them that I needed to cancel the order and return the chair. That same day, I also called Comfy Chair and talked to a gentleman named Roddy Shoup. He said he cancelled the order.
Yet, when I called for the pick up the following day, an employee informed me that they could not pick up the bed because it was no longer under warranty. I continue to be billed for the chair. I hold both Comfy Chair and Avvio Finance liable for the stain on my credit and for the stress this has caused me.
The state of Texas has laws protecting citizens from companies that do not honor their own warranties and those that participate in unfair practices. I demand that Comfy Chair pick up the chair by October 10th, 2019 and Avvio Finance cease billing me for the chair by October 10th. This letter is a good faith attempt to avoid court action on this matter.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
See another sample demand letter here.
When writing legal letters, be sure to use a standard letter format, avoid grammatical or other errors, identify yourself, and be polite but firm. Send any letter intended for a company to that company’s agent–not the owner or president. Before mailing the letter, make a copy of it for your records. Then mail the original by certified mail with return receipt requested.