In most cases, people hope to have a good relationship with their neighbors. Sometimes, that is not the case. Even if it is, if your neighbor causes any loss for you, you may have the legal right to pursue damages in court. Sometimes, the best way to do that is through small claims court. Consider these common situations and how they could impact you.
Can I Sue My Neighbor for Tree Damage?
Yes, you can, but doing so requires that you prove that they knew the tree was a concern, had time to fix it, and failed to do so. Gather proof of neglect or responsibility, such as showing that they did not take care of the tree, which led to it falling. For example, they could be responsible if they did not remove dead branches, and that branch fell on your property, causing damage.
You’ll need to show that they were negligent. Under some state laws, tree owners are not responsible for damages unless you can show they were negligent in taking care of that tree.
Can I Sue My Neighbor for Lowering My Property Value?
Yes, you can, but doing so requires showing that their actions or inactions lowered your property value. For this to occur, you need to gather proof of their actions or inactions causing a nuisance or impacting your property values in other ways. You can do this by showing that their pain – such as the mess in their yard or the unkempt home’s exterior – has impacted the value of your home when listing it for sale.
You’ll need to be sure that they are violating ordinances, such as by leaving old cars parked on the law or operating a business causing too much traffic in the area.
Can I Sue My Neighbor for Water Damage?
Yes, you can, but you will need to show that their actions or inactions led to some loss to you. You can do this by showing that your neighbor acted carelessly and that caused damage to your home in some way. That could include flooding, surface runoff, collapsing retaining walls, flooded gardens, or leaking sprinklers. You’ll need to gather proof that their actions caused your losses. You may need an expert to determine the cause of your losses, such as why your retaining wall fell over.
You’ll need to determine if their actions were unreasonable, which means that you need to consider the nature or importance of their improvements as well as if they could foresee their actions causing these changes.
Can I Sue My Neighbor for Water Runoff?
Yes, you can, but you will have to show that their actions somehow led to a change in the direction, volume, or velocity of water moving onto or over your property. Gather proof of this by documenting the damage caused and the overall changes they made, especially with photos that demonstrate what occurred.
You’ll need to consider whether the runoff is naturally occurring or a man-made problem. You also must determine if the changes they made were unreasonable and whether they could foresee the occurrence. This law differs from state to state but is an essential factor in determining if a person is responsible.
Can I Sue My Neighbor for Disturbing the Peace?
Yes, you can, but you need to show that the noise is bothering you and that you took steps to resolve the problem without any improvement. But, it requires that you indicate that you have some type of damage resulting from their disturbance. Other factors matter, including how noisy the neighbors are and why they are loud. You then have to prove that it is excessive. You will need to gather evidence, such as copies of documents showing you asked them to stop and witness statements. Use recordings of the noise to demonstrate what occurred.
You’ll need to show how these disturbances impacted you, too. For example, someone may lose a job because they could not sleep due to the noise. An injunction may help to tell your neighbor to cease from making those noises.
Can I Sue My Neighbor for Dog Barking?
Yes, you can, but to do so, you need to show that you tried to solve the problem, and they did not do so. Often, you need to gather evidence that the dog barking is incessant or loud and that it is impacting you in some way. In some states, you need to send a demand letter as a first step. This allows the neighbor to understand the problem fully. You will need to show that the dog’s barking is interfering with your use and enjoyment of your property.
You’ll need to gather proof of the dog barking, such as by recording it and showing documentation that you requested that they stop the barking. You can also show that their dog barking violates the law if there is a dog barking nuisance in the local laws. You’ll need to prove that the dog’s barking is impacting you in some way, too.
Can I Sue My Neighbor for False Accusations?
Yes, you can if someone falsely accuses you of a crime or other untrue and substantial accusations. You will need to show that the claims are, in fact, false and that they did say them. You can do this by documenting what they stated (such as saved text messages or witness statements) and then showing proof that their claims are false.
You’ll need to determine if those statements damaged your reputation, character, or integrity. Some comments may be defamation of character. You may need to show information that proves that their actions caused damage to you in some way.
Can I Sue My Neighbor for Smoking?
Yes, you can, but to do so, you may need to show to the court that a private nuisance occurred as a result of the actions of the neighbor. Gather proof that smoking interfered with your right and ability to use and enjoy your property. You may be able to use this claim even if the smoker is not under a no-smoking restriction.
You’ll need to demonstrate evidence that their smoking is impacting your quality of life on your property. You may need to use witness statements to prove that the smoke is significantly present in your home. You may also need to show how it harms you, especially if it relates to your health.
Can I Sue My Neighbor for Noise?
Yes, you can, but to do so, you need to show that the noise impacts your ability to enjoy and use your property in some way. You may need to gather proof of the noise level, such as providing recordings of the noise. Also, show documentation such as text messages or letters that show you informed the neighbor of the problem, and they did not take action to fix it.
You’ll need to show how the noise impacts you, such as not allowing you to sleep or making it difficult to use your property in some way.
What Should You Do In These Situations?
The solution in each of these situations is typically to take the individual to small claims court. This allows you to present your evidence in a court of law. You may need to ensure the judge is sympathetic to the losses you suffered by showing that those losses came from the actions or inactions of your neighbor. Small claims court may lead to fines and other penalties as well as changes to your living environment that allow you to enjoy it fully again.
Send 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 either have a professional write the entire letter or use our DIY services to write it yourself.
File Small Claims
After sending a demand letter, the next step is filling out a Statement of Claim. This is the official state small claims form. For this form, you'll at least need the following information:
- The courthouse you want to file in
- Reason for the lawsuit
- Claim amount ($)
- Name and address of the person/business that is being sued
Filing a Statement of Claim against a business can be tricky. If you are suing a business, you need to look up the certificate of doing business and make sure you fill out the form corresponding to the county where the defendant lives, works or does business. The forms can get tricky and mistakes prevent your case from filing. So doing research is essential. Experts at Dispute file paperwork daily, and a full support team can help you find answers to your questions
Filing small claims can feel like a burden - there is often a lot of research involved. Also, courthouses can be particular about their forms - some may have certain regulations about accepting filing fees, types of signatures, or additional documentation.
File with Dispute instead - we manage the paperwork so you don't have to. Don't scroll through outdated court websites or manage stacks of court documents. Our dashboard and skilled team make it easy to track your case's progress through the system.
Sign up for a free account, or email our team to discuss your options. Unsure if you want to file with us? Start with a demand letter! And if you don't like it, you don't have to file your case with us.