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How To Sue For Property Damages

Updated June 28th 2022

3 min read

How you will proceed with a suit for property damage begins with thinking about how much damage you have. Suppose someone's negligence has destroyed your house and its contents. In that case, you will want to hire an attorney and go through settlement negotiations and, if necessary, litigation to recover damages on...

How To Sue For Property Damages

How To Sue For Property Damages

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Judith V

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Dispute is the easiest & most accurate small claims platform with affordable ways to resolve every dispute.

How you will proceed with a suit for property damage begins with thinking about how much damage you have. Suppose someone's negligence has destroyed your house and its contents. In that case, you will want to hire an attorney and go through settlement negotiations and, if necessary, litigation to recover damages on that scale. On the other hand, you can sue in small claims court for small amounts. The precise amount will depend on your state, with upper limits ranging from $2,500 to $25,000.

Property damage is a civil wrong or tort that can arise from negligence or be intentional.

Suing for Property Damages in Small Claims Court

There are two potential claims for property damage in your case: negligence and intentional damage.

Negligent Property Damage

To be eligible to recover property damages from someone else's negligence, you must allege and prove that:

  • The individual causing the damage owed you a duty of care
  • The individual failed to act with reasonable care and thereby breached that duty through their conduct
  • The breach caused your damages and
  • Financial compensation will make you whole.

If you can prove all of this, plus the extent of the damages, you should receive a money judgment from the judge. Remember, you have to prove the costs, or you won't get an award.

Intentional Property Damage

If someone damages your property on purpose, the case becomes slightly different. You now have what is called an intentional tort. You must prove that the person intended to act the way that person acted and cause harm to your property. You will also need to prove the amount of your damages.

Intentional property damage, again depending on the amount and on the plaintiff's capacity to pay, may make more sense in civil court because you may be able to seek punitive or exemplary damages. These damages are usually not available in small claims court.

Using a Lawyer Instead

Building and proving a negligence case can be challenging, particularly for a non-lawyer. You can expect to be asked to provide documentation of all the financial claims and may have to testify in your case.

One crucial difference is that you can seek punitive or exemplary damages in civil court rather than in small claims court. Usually, to recover these damages, the defendant's conduct has to be so outrageous that it shocks the court's conscience. This is not an easy standard to meet, but if it appears your case might, you should consider seeking them.

How you will proceed with a suit for property damage begins with thinking about how much damage you have. Suppose someone's negligence has destroyed your house and its contents. In that case, you will want to hire an attorney and go through settlement negotiations and, if necessary, litigation to recover damages on that scale. On the other hand, you can sue in small claims court for small amounts. The precise amount will depend on your state, with upper limits ranging from $2,500 to $25,000.

Property damage is a civil wrong or tort that can arise from negligence or be intentional.

You may find that you want legal advice or insight on your case. While there are many free legal resources available, sometimes you need a lawyer. Check out our guide on finding a lawyer. Although they’re not required for small claims court, you can still consult one if you’d like.

Suing for Property Damages in Small Claims Court

There are two potential claims for property damage in your case: negligence and intentional damage.

Negligent Property Damage

To be eligible to recover property damages from someone else's negligence, you must allege and prove that:

  • The individual causing the damage owed you a duty of care
  • The individual failed to act with reasonable care and thereby breached that duty through their conduct
  • The breach caused your damages and
  • Financial compensation will make you whole.

If you can prove all of this, plus the extent of the damages, you should receive a money judgment from the judge. Remember, you have to prove the costs, or you won't get an award.

Intentional Property Damage

If someone damages your property on purpose, the case becomes slightly different. You now have what is called an intentional tort. You must prove that the person intended to act the way that person acted and cause harm to your property. You will also need to prove the amount of your damages.

Intentional property damage, again depending on the amount and on the plaintiff's capacity to pay, may make more sense in civil court because you may be able to seek punitive or exemplary damages. These damages are usually not available in small claims court.

Filing Small Claims For Property Damage

When you make a claim, it's generally because other avenues haven't worked. If you've tried to work with the person who damaged your property and they ignored you, you may want to pursue small claims as your next step. In some states, you can work with an attorney to have representation when you go to court.

How to Write a Demand Letter For Property Damages

A demand letter lets the defendant know how much money they owe you and gives them an opportunity to pay you back before you file in court. Strongly worded demand letters on professional letterhead have a better chance of resolving your dispute outside of court. With our tools, you can generate and mail a letter in minutes.

How to File Small Claims Against Your Mechanic

To file against your mechanic, you’ll need to find small claims paperwork. Some states have one form for filing small claims, but other counties have their own forms. So do your research and find the form that is relevant to your location.

When you fill out a form, you’ll need a few basic pieces of information. Some states require additional information, but here’s information you’ll need for sure.

  1. Plaintiff (your name)
  2. Plaintiff address
  3. Defendant name
  4. Defendant address
  5. Claim amount
  6. Courthouse county

Your state may require email addresses, phone numbers, or military status, or other pieces of information. You may find filling out these forms to be complicated. But Dispute simplifies the filing process and using our tools is much faster.

You won’t have to worry about tracking paperwork or going to the post office when you file with use. Nor will you need to navigate outdated or confusing websites. Find all the information you need on our site.

Sending Your Documents to the Court

  1. In person. You can give them your documents at their physical address. You would need to print multiple copies to file, find a payment method that they accept, and schedule a time in your day when the courts are open for you to give your paperwork to the court clerk.
  2. Mail File. Again, you would need to print multiple copies. But you’d also need to get a shipping label, and envelope, and payment method. Some courthouses require money orders, others require checks. So check your local courthouses’ guidelines on mail filing.
  3. E-Filing. Some courthouses accept e-filing, which you can do on the courthouse website.
  4. Fax Filing.

Every courthouse has different procedures and guidelines. It’s important to do research so that your case has the best chance of making it to court. With Dispute, we make the filing process simple. Sign into your dashboard and easily navigate the small claims process. We’ll take care of the filing for you. Once your paperwork is ready, you’ll just have to pay fees and Dispute will take care of the rest.

Case updates will be sent to your dashboard, and all paperwork will be nicely organized for you. Skip the hassle of research and document management. Let us prepare it for you.

Conclusion

Property damage cases vary based on what kind of property damage occurred. But if someone refuses to pay for damages that they incurred, small claims is a great option to encourage them to pay you back. Dispute makes filing small claims simple and fast.

Get Dispute to file your small claims case online today. Win back the money you deserve.

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