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Civil Court In 5 Common Neighborhood Disputes


Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Jun 23, 2011 in Advice

Disputes amongst neighbors can come up suddenly, especially in the summer, when people come out to enjoy the good weather. This is also th time of year when home projects are started. The projects themselves can cause issues as well. There are several common neighborly disputes that often end up in court. Many of them are only eligible for small claims court attention.

However, others warrant the attentions of a higher court. Here are five common court cases.

1. Child injured on neighbor’s trampoline.

Trampolines are a popular child’s recreation, but also a common source of severe childhood injuries. Trampoline owners who do not take the proper precautions like protective netting and close adult supervision exacerbate the risks.

If your child is injured on a trampoline that is not properly equipped for safety, or while the adults responsible were not supervising, you may have a case for civil court. The extent of the child’s injuries and condition of the trampoline (defects could make it a product liability case) all matter when considering the case. This is one that you should consult a personal injury attorney on.

2. Neighbor will not return tools.

That needy neighbor who always borrows things and does not return them is on your last nerve. He continuously borrows your tools without giving them back, despite your many polite requests. What do you do? File a small claims suit. Chances are that the neighbor will give up the tools once he knows that you are serious about taking him to court. An attorney consult isn’t needed here.

3. Roofer falls while making repairs on neighbor’s roof, but lands on my property.

The fall was initiated while performing work for the neighbor, so the neighbor should be liable for the injuries (covered by homeowner’s insurance). If the roofer sues you, however, hire a personal injury attorney to quickly extract you from the confusion.

A personal injury attorney not only represents the victims, they are well versed in personal injury law and can apply that to removing you from a case in which you may not have fault.

4. Ball through the window in neighborhood game.

The traditional pickup street game gets rowdy and your window is a casualty. Try to work things out with the hitter’s parents before going to court, as this case will not get you further than small claims. The parents are probably more than willing to cover the damage, in addition to loaning you the foul ball hitter for some household chores as penance.

5. Neighbor cut down 100 year old tree on the property line.

“The neighbor cut down my tree,” is another common dispute. In the state of Indiana, one neighbor can alter the trees but cutting limbs and trimming roots, if the ownership of the tree is not in question. Problems come up when one neighbor trims a portion that is not on his property line, or the alterations end up killing the tree or severely damaging the tree’s health. That’s when the offending neighbor is liable for damages to the other property owner.

In a case where a 100 year old tree is cut down, the damages can be high, depending on several circumstances.

Consult an attorney for more information on getting a legal remedy for your lost tree. Not every neighborly dispute belongs in a courtroom. However, a personal injury attorney well versed in Indiana state law should handle the ones that do. You can handle the small claims on your own.