Settlement Demand Definition

By Andrea Farkas
Man signing settlement paperwork.

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Not all civil and criminal cases go to trial. If you sue someone in a civil matter, like a contract dispute, you can reach a resolution out of court. Similarly, if you are charged with a crime, you and the state might reach a settlement without going to trial; this kind of settlement is generally called a "plea bargain." A settlement demand initiates the process of reaching an out-of-court agreement.

Basics of Settlements

If you believe you have been wronged, you can send a settlement demand letter to the offending person or company. This can serve as a formal notice that gives the person or company a chance to fix the problem outside of court. For example, if someone owes you money, you can send a settlement demand requesting payment by a certain date. If you are currently involved in a lawsuit, your lawyer can send the opposing party a letter proposing an out-of-court agreement; the other party can agree or disagree with the demand or negotiate the terms. If you are charged with a crime, a plea bargain settlement might lessen your sentence or even the magnitude of your crime. For example, if you are charged with first degree murder and face a potential sentence of 20 years to life, your lawyer can propose a manslaughter conviction and 15 years incarceration. If a settlement demand leads to an agreement, you and your opponent save the time, money and grief often associated with a trial; however, look into the specific laws of your state. Some settlement-related evidence may be admissible at trial, so be certain to carefully choose the information you share to avoid later disadvantages in case your negotiations fail.

About the Author

Andrea Farkas has been writing since 2005. Her legal article appears in the "Texas Tech Estate Planning" and "Community Property Law Journal." Farkas graduated from Texas A&M University and earned her law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law.

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