Sometimes It Takes A Little Legal Work To Get Some Peace And Quiet: Suing Your Noisy Neighbor

Law Blog

Sometimes, the only way to get someone to behave like an adult is to get a court order making them behave like an adult. If you have a noisy neighbor who is making your life miserable, you may have to file a lawsuit in order to get a little peace and quiet.

What Should You Do First?

Generally speaking, unless you already know that your neighbor is purposefully trying to harass you, try to resolve the issue without walking into court. Start with the assumption that your neighbor doesn't realize that he or she is keeping you awake or disrupting your life. Initiate a friendly conversation to see if you can reach a solution. If that doesn't work, do the following:

  1. Check the city noise laws. Noise ordinances vary greatly from area to area, so don't assume that you know what they are until you check them out.
  2. Send a letter making a formal request. Keep your letter short, polite, and simple. Mention the local noise ordinance and mention your previous attempt to reach an informal solution.
  3. Start making a record and filing police reports. While nobody wants to call the police over seemingly trivial matters, if your neighbor's noise is disturbing your rest, it's not really a small matter. Sleep deficiencies can affect everything from your weight to your ability to think straight at work.
  4. Consider making a recording of the noise. Check with a local attorney first to make sure that you understand what's legal, but you can generally record the noise that you can hear in your own home or apartment, or the noise that you can hear from a public sidewalk outside of the building you share with your neighbor. (The laws on recording conversations are trickier, however.)
  5. Make a list of witnesses and get statements. Your other neighbors may or may not want to get involved in the dispute - probably depending on whether or not they're also suffering. However, you can also use friends and relatives as witnesses as well.
  6. Keep a record of what you hear and when. Get a notebook and jot down when the noise starts, when it stops, and what kind of noise it is - yelling, music, drums, or top-of-the-lungs singing.

Where Can You Sue?

Usually, you can take your case to small claims court. Each state has a monetary limit on the amount of money damages that you can sue for in small claims court, so find out first the maximum that you can ask for before you file your paperwork. Then:

1.) Pick up the paperwork that you need to file. Generally speaking, most small claims are handled in the civil division of the local probate courts. The forms for filing a claim are generally available through the clerk of courts.

2.) Decide on what you are going to ask the court to do. In the case of a noisy neighbor, you want to ask the court to issue an injunction that stops him or her from continuing to make the offending noise.

Consider asking the court to also award you damages for the suffering you've already endured. Keep in mind that the more reasonable your request, the more likely the court will see fit to award you damages.

For example, asking the court to compensate you for your lost sleep and exhaustion to the tune of $100 per night probably isn't unreasonable, assuming that you've done everything that you can to resolve the issue peaceably. At the very least, ask the court to make your neighbor reimburse you for the filing fee, plus any time you've missed from work due to either loss of sleep or the lawsuit.

3.) Submit your forms back to the clerk of courts, along with the filing fee. Filing fees vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but the clerk of courts can tell you how much it will cost to file your claim when you pick up the paperwork.

4.) Once your day in court arrives, come in organized and ready to explain to the judge what the problem is and how it is affecting you. Have available the copies of your witness statements, the letter you sent the defendant, and the police reports you filed. The more evidence that you have, the more likely that you'll win your case.

If your neighborhood dispute over the noise is more than you can handle, or it has escalated into other forms of harassment, contact a personal injury attorney's office like the Law Office Of John J Barrow right away to discuss your case. You may need to file for a protection order or your damages may simply exceed the amount that you can recover in a small claims court. Don't allow yourself to be the victim of a grown-up neighborhood bully, however - the law can and will protect you.


29 April 2015

Knowing Your Legal Rights Can Help You Greatly in Life

Like many people, I once found learning about law very intimidating. My brother went to law school and I remember glancing through a few of his books and wondering if I was actually reading English due to all of the legal jargon in them! However, when I ended up in a sticky legal situation due to accidentally breaking a small law I didn't know existed, I realized that I needed to learn more about the law, so I could make sure to follow it precisely in the future. My brother helped to break down some complicated legal concepts to me, and I have since been studying up online. I want to post what I have learned and continue to learn about law in the future on my new blog, so my knowledge cannot only help myself, but also help others!