You've been waiting months for your contractor to finish the job they were hired to do, and it still hasn't happened. You want your money back, and it's time to take action.
Small claims court is a relatively quick and easy process that will allow you to get the money you're owed without spending much time.
What are the grounds for suing a contractor in small claims court?
You may be able to sue your contractor in small claims court if you have been harmed by their failure to perform according to the terms of your contract. This is called a "breach of contract."
Common reasons for suing a contractor for "breach of contract" include:
- Failure to complete the work
- Failure to meet standards specified
- Damaging your property, personal belongings, and landscaping
- Injured by contractor's negligence
You will be asked to show that you have suffered damage due to the breach of contract. The court may order the contractor to pay you if you win.
Get all the facts
It's important to be prepared before you move forward with any actions.
Review a copy of the contract or other agreement with the contractor. Check the terms and conditions of the contract to see what was agreed upon between both parties.
Gather any photos, documentation, and proof of communication. This will help support your claim in court.
Send a demand letter
You can show the serious nature of your intent by sending a demand letter. This letter usually lists the amount of money you are owed and describes the situation as you see it. The letter includes any pertinent information, such as the date of the agreement and a deadline for response. A good rule of thumb is to give the person 10-14 days to respond.
By sending a demand letter, you state your intention to take legal action if the problem is not resolved. This is often enough to get the other party to take your claim seriously and take action to resolve the issue.
Go to small claims court
Small claims court can be accessed without a lawyer. Your local small claims court generally hears cases involving smaller amounts, usually $10,000 or less.
You must file a complaint to sue in small claims court. The court charges a filing fee and processes the document. The court will set a date for a hearing, and you will be expected to be present. If the court rules in your favor, the other party will be ordered to pay you what you're owed.
The basic steps of suing someone in small claims court are simple:
- Fill out the court's paperwork
- File the case in court
- Pay court fees
- Serve court papers to the defendant
- Attend your hearing and explain the reason for suing the defendant.
Suing a contractor in small claims court is a straightforward process that can help you get the money you're owed. If you have any questions, contact your local small claims court before taking legal action.