Is my roommate responsible for damage that occured to my property while she was entertaining guests?

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Is my roommate responsible for damage that occured to my property while she was entertaining guests?

She admits her guest did it; she verbally agreed to pay for the damage but has since moved out and stopped returning calls and answering letters and emails from me.

Asked on April 29, 2009 under Personal Injury, Nebraska


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 13 years ago | Contributor

Since you did not mention a dollar figure I am going to assume that the value of the item in question was under $2,700 which would make it possible to bring a claim in small claims court in Nebraska.

Sometimes the cost hiring of a lawyer totals more than the money you're owed.  Small claims court can be a quick and inexpensive way to collect on your own.  The court procedures are informal, not intimidating.  And a judge, instead of a jury, usually decides the case.

You should file a small claims case in the County Court in the county where the party being sued (the "defendant") lives.  Although you said she has since moved, I will also assume she has not gone out of state.

You must pay a $23 filing fee.  You also may have to pay to have the court, the sheriff's office or a local process server deliver notice of the claim to the defendant.  At the time you file the claim, the clerk of the district court can tell you what service options are available.

The trial in small claims court is between you and the defendant.  No attorneys are allowed to represent either of you.  Both parties must prepare their cases and bring those witnesses or other evidence (such as documents, records, photographs or drawings) to court to support their claims or defenses.  Witnesses must have personal knowledge of the facts in their testimonies. Documents, records, photographs and drawings must be identified and explained by someone with personal knowledge of them.

If the defendant does not appear at trial, you will be granted a "default" judgment for the amount of your claim, plus your filing and service costs.  If you fail to appear at trial, the judge will dismiss your claim.

If the court enters a judgment against either party, it is that party's duty to pay without delay.  The small claims court does not collect the judgment for you.  But if the judgment is not appealed or paid within 30 days, you can start trying to collect the judgment by garnishing wages or bank accounts, or trying to locate the personal property of the person who owes the judgment.  You can also file the judgment in court for a fee.  This puts a lien against any real estate in the name of the person who owes the judgment.

If the damage is $2,700 or more you may want to consult an attorney.  If you need help in finding one in your area refer to for help.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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