Can I take him to small claims court over a contract of payment?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I take him to small claims court over a contract of payment?

A guy hit my car while I was parked in the drive through line. We did not call the police to file a report. We only exchanged information and he agreed to pay me cash for the damages if I go get a quote. I got the quote then I wrote up a contract that he would pay me in full for the cost. He signed it and paid me $300 for the first 2 weeks. Now he is refusing to pay the rest of the cost. Can I take him to court over this contract to try to get the rest of my money or is there anything else that I can do?

Asked on September 10, 2017 under Accident Law, Georgia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Is it a contract? That is, in the agreement, you did you give him anything, like a promise to not sue if he paid, or a statement or claim that you would accept the money due under the agreement as payment in full of any/all claims from the accident? To be an enforceable contract, each side must give the other "consideration," or a thing or promise of value (like cash from him in exchange for a promise to not sue from you).
If you did give him something in the agreement, then it would be an enforceable contract and you could sue him for "breach of contract" to get the rest of the payments due under. Depending on much much money is involved, suing in small claims court, as your own attorney or "pro se," may  be a very good option. You would need to show the court the contract and testify as to the payments he missed; unless he could convince the court you were entirely lying and he never signed the agreement, or provide proof (e.g. cancelled checks cashed by you) that he has made the payments due, this should be a straightforward case.
If you did not give him anything, the agreement is likely unenforceable: it would not be a contract. But you could still sue him for the the damage done to your car. In this lawsuit, you'd need to prove he was at fault and also the amount of damage done; you could get a judgment for the damage, less a credit to him for the amounts he did already pay.

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