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Surllio's avatar

Can my friend sue me for accidently breaking his TV?

Asked by Surllio (16points) February 8th, 2010

I was at a friends out back in early November. I had brought my Playstation 3 with me as they were all wanting to see Uncharted 2 and some other games. At around 1am, I felt tired and decided to leave. While unhooking my PS3, the TV slid back and knocked some of the internal compartments loose. I wasn’t informed about this till 2 days later. I immediately made it a point to apologize and offer to help with repairs or a replacement if my finances would allow it. Fast forward to today (Feb 7th). My friend has thrown out an ultimatum. I pay him $300.00, or he sues me for his TV. The TV is about 6 or 7 years old, rear projection Sony. Both sides know its an accident. Can he sue me if we’ve already determined that it was an accident?

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28 Answers

DrBill's avatar

In the US, any one can sue anyone else for any reason.

If you go to court, and can justify it was an accident it will most likely get dismissed.

EmpressPixie's avatar

He can take you to small claims court, but the fact that he hasn’t done it until now, has no proof that you actually damaged the TV, and probably has no basis for that $300 will most likely all weigh against him. Here is some information on small claims court.

More importantly, I would stop calling him your “friend”. The guy is willing to sue you for $300. Either you aren’t telling us the whole story or he’s really, really not your friend.

To be clear: I am not a lawyer.

JLeslie's avatar

If you think $300 is high, then offer him a compromise. Maybe ask him how he came up with the $300? He might feel like he is being fair, although threatening to sue without even discussing isn’t very nice, especially since you have already apologized and offered to help. Maybe he has been burned before and questions if you are sincere, who knows. Try to talk to him again I think.

slick44's avatar

Hes not much of a friend. Sonds like he just wants a new t.v and why didnt he contact you immediatly, instead of waiting 2 days?

JLeslie's avatar

Um, I think maybe the question should be when the OP knocked the TV over why did he not check to see if it ws ok, and if not, tell his friend right away?

slick44's avatar

@JLeslie good point.:) i still dont think as a friend he should sue. I think they should be able to work somthing out.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

As my medical risk manager said, “Anyone can sue anyone at any time for any thing.” Whether he/she will win is another story. The two days between when the incident happened and the ultimatum is definitely a fact in your favor. Without documentation of how bad the damage was immediately after you knocked it over, you could claim that everything happened afterwards.

That being said, sounds like your “friend” is being a jerk. Hopefully he’s just blowing off steam, and if you buy him a beer this will blow over.

JLeslie's avatar

@slick44 I agree. I just thought as a friend he should make sure everything is ok before he left. They both are wrong.

@Dr_Dredd You are talking about what the guy can legally prove, what about the idea that the OP admits it is his fault?

Dr_Dredd's avatar

He didn’t admit it in court. ;-)

Silhouette's avatar

JLeslie is right, you admit you accidentally damaged the TV, do the right thing and reach an agreement with your friend to pay something for the damages. Money has a way of sorting friend’s into an order of importance doesn’t it?

Bluefreedom's avatar

If your friend decides to sue you for breaking his television accidentally (key word here), he probably wasn’t much of a friend to begin with. He appears to be a petty individual.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

What in the world occurred between your “offer to help with repairs or replacement” and “an ultimatum” that he threw out? No discussion, no “hey, what did you have in mind?” or anything?

Second, who is “they” in the first sentence?

Third, how much drinking was going on between the time you started gaming and 1 AM, when you decided to leave? How much drinking went on afterward?

john65pennington's avatar

Real friends do not act this way. my neighbor accidentially ran over my dog and killed him. he offered a new puppy or to pay me. i said no, it was an accident. this neighbor is a friend of mine and running over my dog was not an intentional act on his part. this situation here, also applies to you. you offered to make repairs, you apologized, and this was not an intentional act by you. this is basically all the law asks you to do. in reality, it sounds as though your “friend” wants to replace his older televison. i would make a counter-offer to him, say $50.00 at the most. can he sue you? i doubt if it will ever come to this. i would not worry. make him the offer and then write him off of your friend list.

JLeslie's avatar

To those who see no fault with the OP how about this. Two weeks ago my husband brought his car to have the windows tinted. When he went to pick it up he noticed before leaving the lot that the center console between the front seats was damaged. He went back in, and the person who worked on the car immediately admitted he did it and said they would order the new part. Here’s the thing, he tried to get away with it. I guess he could have continued to deny it, so we are glad he did admit it, but do you think we trust him to work on our car again?

I had a friend who’s son ruined a $500 mattress of mine. I would not let her pay me, but she immediately told me what had happened and offered to pay, she did not try to cover it up, or ignore what had happened.

@john65pennington I am guessing your neighbor did not try to get away with it, but immediately called you, he was probably extremely upset himself about the incedent. What if he had waited until some other neighbor ratted him out? Would you be so understanding?

john65pennington's avatar

Jleslie, i would have then considered this an intentional act to hide that incident. i think the time element involved here plays a big part in your situation.

JLeslie's avatar

@john65pennington And the OP knocked over the TV saying nothing until two days later his friend called, then he finally admitted he had knocked it over.

Darwin's avatar

Well, I think you ought to counter-sue him and the two of you present your cases on Judge Judy. At least we would get some entertainment out of your predicament.

Sounds as though the two of you weren’t really such great friends after all, since you should have told him about the accident right away, and he shouldn’t have waited two days to talk to you about it. In any case, if you had told him right away, the two of you could have verified whether the accident caused any damage or if the damage was just due to wear and tear and coincidence.

$300 won’t get him a really great TV anyway, not these days.

Surllio's avatar

Thank you everyone!

The “They” in the first sentence is him and his roommates. No degree of drinking had occurred. He had gone to bed, and it was his roommates and me in the room when the TV was jarred. It didn’t fall, the back holders for it slid off the table it was on (which is almost too small for the TV in the first place), and I heard it pop, grabbed it, and pulled it back up to the table. I didn’t notice a problem when I had left, so I didn’t think about it. I’ve known the guy for years, he has had the TV for a while and its been through a lot worse than a mere bump.

The ultimatum came a good three month’s after the incident were we talked several times about what could be done. I even offered to have a someone I know who repairs TVs take a look at it, which was respectfully declined.

The issues didn’t start till he asked me what I could give him, which I couldn’t give him anything. My financial situation was incredibly tight, and has been for a while. I find it more odd he waited till Tax season to offer this demand.

Me and him are working through this, I hope. The way he makes it sound, most of the push for a lawsuit are coming from those that he hangs around more than me.

JLeslie's avatar

Typical. People on the outside can make things worse. There is always one in a bunch who is lawsuit happy, or always feeling life is full of injustices, and the only way to fix things is to avoid working directly with someone and enlist the courts or some other formal medium. I had not realized the suit is being threatened three months after the fact. Hopefully you will be able to work it out between you two.

On a side note I think if you go on Judge Judy you get paid a few thousand. That is what I heard.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@JLeslie well, if I ever go on Judge Judy and don’t get at least a couple thou… then you’ll be hearing from my attorney.

JLeslie's avatar

@CyanoticWasp LOL. A friend of mine said she was approached by one of those shows when she had a suit in small claims court, but she decided not to do it. She is the one who told me that both people get paid, and then you basically can take the money, if you owe any, out of that money. So, you can’t really lose, except that you might embarrass yourself on national television. Each show might do it differently though, I have no idea.

Darwin's avatar

”...might embarrass yourself on national television…”

Might embarrass yourself? If you go on Judge Judy it’s pretty much a sure thing because if you don’t embarrass yourself on your own, she’ll make sure it happens anyway.

JLeslie's avatar

@Darwin It’s hard for me to watch.

Dr_Dredd's avatar

“That’s right Al, you lost! And let me tell what you didn’t win: a twenty volume set of the Encyclopedia International, a case of Turtle Wax, and a year’s supply of Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco treat. But that’s not all! You also made yourself look like a jerk in front of millions of people! And you brought shame and disgrace on your family name for generations to come! You don’t get to come back tomorrow! You don’t even get a lousy copy of our home game! You’re a complete loser!!”

From Weird Al’s “I Lost on Jeopardy.” It seemed to fit here. :-)

CyanoticWasp's avatar

@Dr_Dredd you made me think of “The Gong Show” ... with a gavel instead. It sort of works, doesn’t it?

Dr_Dredd's avatar

It definitely does. :-)

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Sounds like he needs $300 for something else; this is not about the television.

mattbrowne's avatar

No. He would first have to unfriend you.

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