How Do You File a Lawsuit for Damage to Your Property?

When filing lawsuits in small claims court for damage to their property, people should compile as much evidence as possible that the accused caused it, reports Nolo. They should estimate the value of the damaged property aggressively but not demand an exorbitant sum. However, sometimes if the property damage is malicious, courts also award extra for emotional distress or punitive damages.

To win a lawsuit for damage to property, the owner must be able to prove that whoever caused the damage was negligent or acted willfully, explains Nolo. For instance, a drunk driver who crashes into property or a neighbor whose visibly diseased tree falls on someone else's property obviously displays negligence. In some situations, courts may find for comparative negligence, judging that both parties acted negligently, but the person who is less responsible receives a partial settlement.

When calculating the amount of their claim, those seeking damages should figure the cost of repairing a used item but not necessarily replacing it, as courts generally award the value of the damaged item but not the cost of a new replacement, according to Nolo. In proving an item's worth, plaintiffs can bring in experts who can vouch for the value as well as printouts from the Internet and newspaper ads showing the value of similar items. Even if the damaged property is insured, people can sue in small claims court to receive the cost of the deductible.