What You Need to Know About Suing for Harassment in Georgia
When a neighbor repeatedly exhibits offensive behavior, you may be able to sue them for harassment. Here’s all you need to know about suing a neighbor for harassment in Georgia.
Neighbors commit harassment when they intentionally cause emotional distress to others in the neighborhood. A person planning to sue a neighbor for harassment should document all disagreeable interactions and collect videos or photos of the offenses to present in a small claims court. Plaintiffs dealing with threats or stalking from a neighbor should reach out to a criminal attorney to press charges.
What is neighbor harassment in Georgia?
Georgia law defines harassment as conduct intended to cause significant emotional distress to another person. In a neighborhood context, the offensive conduct could include the following:
- Noise violations
- Stalking or invading your right to privacy
- Stepping into your property without permission
- Verbal abuse
- Disregarding property lines when building
- Calling law enforcement frequently for insignificant issues
- Any intentional acts to motivate you to move away
A neighbor commits criminal harassment when they go beyond offensive conduct to threaten or cause harm. For instance, a neighbor intentionally causing injury to your pet may face criminal harassment charges.
Steps to Sue A Neighbor for Harassment
A person involved in frequent disputes with a neighbor should try to avoid confrontations as much as possible. Engaging with the problematic neighbor could help them collect evidence against you. Proof of you yelling back could diminish the strength of your case.
If the person decides to sue their neighbor, they should document all instances of the neighbor’s disorderly conduct. Helpful records include videos, photos, or police reports. Plaintiffs should write down the time, date, and description of each offensive interaction. The plaintiff can then take the proof to a small claims court in Georgia, where they can either represent themselves or have an attorney present the case. Depending on the dispute, the plaintiff may need a civil claims attorney, criminal attorney, real estate attorney, or landlord-tenant attorney.
The police, the plaintiff’s lawyer, and the judge will review the evidence the plaintiff collected. After speaking with the judge or in court, the plaintiff and their neighbor can settle with money or other compensation. In severe cases, the plaintiff can file a restraining order to keep the neighbor away from the plaintiff’s property. A restraining order does not require the defendant to move away from their home.
Following the settlement, the plaintiff should continue to document any new infractions or violations of a restraining order. While most civil court cases of neighbor disputes end with avoidance, some encounters may become more dangerous. Plaintiffs should keep note of the restraining order’s expiration date or the neighbor’s prison release date to stay prepared in unpredictable situations.
FAQs About Suing A Neighbor for Harassment
What should I do if my neighbor is threatening me?
Criminal attorneys handle criminal harassment cases by pressing charges and obtaining an order of protection for the plaintiff. Plaintiffs in these cases can sue for physical injuries or pain and suffering. If you’re worried a situation may become violent, involve the police immediately and avoid trying to solve the issue on your own.
What actions are not harassment by a neighbor?
Actions like playing loud music sometimes, entering your property to play with a pet, or saying insensitive things usually do not count as harassment. Neighbor harassment must be intentional and frequent to present in court.
Should I introduce witnesses in my harassment lawsuit?
Witnesses are particularly helpful in proving your neighbor regularly and intentionally attempted to disrupt your daily life. Plaintiffs can introduce family members, but other neighbors are the best witnesses to act as impartial third parties.