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How to Sue Your Plumber in Small Claims Court

Updated April 27th 2022

4 min read

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

How to Sue Your Plumber in Small Claims Court

How to Sue Your Plumber in Small Claims Court

author

Mary D

Author


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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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