How do I defend against small claims. neighbor claims his failing retaining wall was damaged by me.
Astoria, OR |
Retaining wall is 4 ft tall, holding back dirt on a hill. it is wooden and about 20 years old.
Neighbor claims cinder blocks were thrown against it and broke it.
Cinder blocks "3" were sitting next to retaining wall.
If your neighbor has filed a legal case against you, then you'll have to appear - that is, by filing a response form with the Court. You'll get a hearing date, and you will have to present evidence that you are not responsible for damages as they allege. As the party making the claim, the burden of proof is going to be on them to prove that you were responsible for the damage, and that there was a financial loss that they suffered as a result.
You can't have an attorney speak for you in small claims court absent exceptional circumstances, but you can consult in private with an attorney to help you understand the claims process and prepare a defense. If the claim they've made is large enough, you may also be able to move the case from small claims court into circuit court, where an attorney can represent you. If you win the case, then the neighbor can be ordered to pay you a prevailing party fee in small claims - or even to pay your attorney fees, in 'regular' court. For this reason, most reasonable people don't file lawsuits over small injuries.
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Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation.
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