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Pursuing small claims- Advice?

Moms View Message Board: General Discussion: Archive March 2007: Pursuing small claims- Advice?
By Boxzgrl on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 10:59 am:

DH let a friend of his borrow our trailer for about 1 1/2 weeks. The trailer came back damaged. I have pictures of the damages. I have pictures of the trailer before the damages (if I can recover them from a CD!!) and we have two written statements that can be made. The damages estimate about $1,000 and we are going to get estimates from 3 different places to ensure the cost is correct. We tried settling this out of court but the guy told Steve the only way he'll get money is by taking it that far. I wrote up a resolution letter last night to give to him so that if we go to court I have proof that I tried resolving this in a civil manner first.

What else do I need to know about? I've never done a thing like this and never thought it would go this far. I'm quite annoyed. More so that DH and his friend agreed that he didn't need to sign the contract I made up beforehand holding him liable should something like this occur.

By Tonya on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 11:04 am:

Pictures of before and after and the resolution letter should be more than enough. Plus 3 different estimates should be more than enough.

I had to do small claims court 4 yrs ago. And that is exactly what I had.

Make sure you have a time line of all the times you tried to work things out with him and the answers he gave you.

Written statements are good too. The more prepared you go in with the better off you are. The judge will see how organized and ready you are and take you more seriously.

Good luck.

By Boxzgrl on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 11:19 am:

Another question...

The damages are close to $1000 but our insurance deductible is $500. Should we make him pay in full and not claim it with insurance or make the claim and just go after the $500 deductible?

Also, should we take the trailer in for the repairs now or wait until after court? Is there a better way to do it?

By Tonya on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 11:35 am:

I say repair after court not before. And go after everything. Do not turn this into your insurance. If you do then your rates could go up because he was stupid.

I would say call your insurnace company to let them know of the damages but do not have them turn a claim in for work to be done.

By Ginny~moderator on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 11:38 am:

You should probably get the estimates "certified", that is, make sure they are on letterhead or a document that shows the repair shops information, and ask the shop owner or mechanic to sign a statement something like

I certify that I prepared the attached estimate for repairs to the camper owned by (names) on (date); that I am qualified to make the repairs listed; and that this estimate is given based on my professional experience.

If it were me, I'd claim the whole $1,000 (plus court costs, which the court will add in). If you have to make a claim with your insurance company they will want to know why you didn't sue for the full amount and they may sue him or go after his insurance company through inter-company arbitration.

If you don't plan to use the trailer in the near future, I'd just cover it with a large tarp and let it be. Most places, small claims hearings are held within 30-60 days. If you do need to use it, ask the repair shop to take photos of trailer before beginning the repairs (or you give the repair shop copies of your photos) so that when they "certify" the bill they can refer to the photos dated (XX) that are attached.

I think if you go in with two estimates that should be plenty. The photos (especially if they are dated) are, of course, essential.

Men - arrgh - why don't they listen??? BTDT,Melissa.

By Boxzgrl on Friday, March 30, 2007 - 04:07 pm:

Thank you ladies!

Ginny- I think that will be a question we'll never find the answer to: Why don't men listen?


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