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Sue Your Plumber in under 10 Minutes [Guide 2022]

Updated July 14th 2022

5 min read

Plumbing problems and next steps you can take if you want to sue.

Sue Your Plumber in under 10 Minutes [Guide 2022]

Sue Your Plumber in under 10 Minutes [Guide 2022]

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Kaylin Lo

Author


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

Plumbing issues can range from merely irritating to catastrophic. Sewer backups, septic failures, or burst pipes can all be a headache. And if your plumbing problem is caused or exacerbated by a plumber, you may wonder if you have legal options.

Below, we discuss how to sue a plumber in small claims court and what you can do to create the strongest possible claim.

Plumbing issues are exhausting to fix, especially if your plumber made a mistake.

Common Plumbing Errors and Problems

Plumbers are trained to diagnose and fix a broad range of plumbing problems. However, plumbers can make mistakes. And mistakes that involve your water and waste systems can quickly become serious problems. Some of the most common plumbing issues include:

  • Slow draining in sinks and showers
  • Constantly running toilet
  • Gurgling drains
  • Discolored or deteriorating paint (which can be a sign of leaking inside the walls)
  • Low water pressure
  • Water backing up in downstairs drains or showers

There are many possible causes of these plumbing issues. Maybe tree roots grew into the water supply pipes, or even drains clogged with grease. If a plumber misdiagnoses the cause of your issue, you could end up with more damage.

And while the plumber may not be responsible for any damage that occurred before they arrived, they may be legally responsible for negligence if their actions (or inaction) caused further damage.

Ho‎w to Sue Plumber in a Small Claims Court

Before deciding whether to sue your plumber in small claims court, you'll need to evaluate a few factors. These include the strength of your case, the total amount of financial damages you're seeking, and your ability to collect these damages.

To recover damages against a plumber for negligence, you'll need to prove three things:

  • The plumber owed you a duty of reasonable care;
  • The plumber breached this duty; and
  • This breach caused you financial damages.

If you can prove all three of these elements by a preponderance of the evidence, you should be able to prevail.

Creating a Strong Case to File In Court

Every plumber case is different, but there are a few things you can do (both before and during litigation) to create a stronger case.

A written contract or scope of work agreement can help boost your claim. If you're able to show that the plumber violated an agreed-on term or condition of your contract and can point to damages stemming from this violation, you should have a strong case.

Even if you don't have a plumbing contract, you may be able to support your case by providing lots of photos of the damage and any aftermath. Photos showing the problems can be valuable evidence in small claims court.

Although you don't need an attorney to file a small claims lawsuit, it may be helpful to consult one if you're planning to sue your plumber for negligence. Plumbing problems and repairs can be complex, and it may be tough to prove your case if you don't have an attorney on your side. Your attorney can gather evidence, interview expert witnesses, and take the other steps needed to ensure you have the strongest possible claim.

If you decide not to consult with an attorney, you can file a claim against the plumber by yourself. You can check out an online small claims filing service. With the help of these services, filing can be easy and fast.

At Dispute, the small claims filing process is made easy and affordable through our app. Instead of managing all of the paperwork, court dates, and filing on top of your regular responsibilities, let our experts take care of it for you. All you have to do is check your user dashboard for updates on your case. Our tools make it easy to manage the details for any state and county. All you need to do is put together evidence and show up for your day in court.

File a Small Claim

Write a Demand Letter

It is important to communicate with the defendant that you demand payment. This form of communication is also known as a demand letter and should be sent before filing in court. Many cases are resolved through strongly worded demand letters; however, it is advisable to send one on professional letterhead. Online services like Dispute offer help in writing a demand letter. Depending on the package you purchase, you can use our DIY services to generate a letter

Complete Your Small Claims Paperwork

After submitting the request letter, the next step is to complete a “Statement of Claim.” This is the official state small claim. For this form, you need to start with the following information:

  1. Reason for lawsuit
  2. Amount requested ($)
  3. Name and address of person/company being sued

Filing a lawsuit against a business can be very complicated. If you are suing a business, you should look for a Certificate of Business Activity and be sure to complete the form for the county where the respondent lives, works or does business. Forms can be complicated and errors can prevent your file from being submitted. Therefore, research is essential.

Dispute professionals file daily paperwork and a support team can help you find answers to your questions. Depending on your state, county, and court, you may need more information about the respondent. Some courts asked if the defendant was in the military. Or they may need more information from you.

You may need to complete additional documents such as summons. You will then need to sign your papers. Sometimes you may need to have your signature notarized. With Disputes, you can easily sign and notarize your forms within the app.

Filing a lawsuit facilitates this process. Our simple interface simplifies forms and makes it easy to fill out.

File your documents in court

After completing the paperwork, you will have to file it with the court. The court clerk will review your documents. If approved, you can continue with your case. But if not, you can make adjustments and reclassify. You may need to file multiple copies with the court. Be sure to check with your local court for applicable guidelines. Different courts have different policies for filing. Some applications require faxing, mailing, or electronic filing. They may also be specific about the subscription fee and payment method.

Let Dispute take care of those nuances for you. Take a few minutes to answer the questions in our app and we'll take care of the rest

Serve the Defendant

Some courthouses allow you to purchase defendant service from them. While others require you to find a process server on your own. But either way, you must “serve” the defendant with papers that notify them of the lawsuit.

Show up to Court

Once the defendant is served, you’ll most likely need to go to court. Be sure to check your local guidelines for next steps, as different courts have different rules. But once you go to court, you’ll need to prepare a few things.

You’ll need a few copies of evidence and your court documents. Next, you'll need to show your damages so the court can calculate your judgment. Often, these cases settle before a hearing. You'll still want to calculate your damages. Then it will be easier to decide whether to accept or reject the settlement. Proving damages can involve gathering invoices, seeking repair quotes, or providing bank or credit card statements.

Finally, you'll need to collect your judgment. If your case has settled, you'll usually sign a settlement agreement giving up your right to sue the defendant in the future in exchange for a specific amount of money. The settlement agreement will often set out the terms and timeline for payment. If the defendant doesn't abide by the settlement agreement terms, you should be able to petition the trial court for enforcement.

If a trial court awards you a judgment, collecting on this judgment can be an entirely new process. You may need to file proceedings supplemental, seeking information from the defendant that will allow you to garnish their payments or place a lien on their assets. If the defendant's business declares bankruptcy or goes out of business, you might find it tough to collect. It's important to file proceedings supplemental as soon as possible after a judgment.

Conclusion

If your plumber made a mistake, you may be able to recover damages through small claims court. Create a strong case to file in court, send a demand letter, fill out your small claims paperwork, file your paperwork, serve the defendant, and show up to court.

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

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