How to Sue Someone for Harassment
Harassment occurs when you have been intentionally harassed, humiliated, tormented, or abused by another person. If these acts have resulted in damages, you may sue the harasser in small claims court. In this article, we will go through the many reasons for suing for harassment, how to sue in small claims court, and what other alternatives are available.
What is Harassment?
Many people do not realize that harassment is both a criminal and civil offense. If the authorities cannot help you with your harassment allegations, you have the option to sue in small claims court. Let’s take a look at what legally qualifies as harassment.
Harassment is when someone displays behavior that makes you feel distressed, humiliated, threatened, or abused. Here is an overview of harassing behaviors that are punishable by law:
|Obscenity||Requesting, proposing, or commenting about anything that is sexual in nature electronically or in writing.|
|Threats||Threatening another person with physical violence or felonies that will be committed against the person, his/her friends and family, or a property.|
|False reports||Spreading false information about a person that ruins his or her reputation or traumatizes them.|
|Phone harassment||Calling or texting someone repeatedly, making unwanted phone calls, or knowingly permitting someone to use his/her phone to harass the victim|
|Electronic harassment||Cyberbullying, impersonating someone online or abusing someone online via social media|
Suing for Internet Misconduct
Initiating a criminal case against an online harasser is done by contacting the police. However, in some cases where there is not enough evidence or a minimal level of danger, criminal charges may be delayed. Sometimes, even if criminal conduct is found during the period of investigation, there can be no court order issued that commands the harasser to stop. You can take direct action yourself and file a civil protection order that legally demands the harasser to stop. If you decide to go this route, this would typically be the process:
- Issue a warning to the harasser in writing, by registered mail or email, and let them know you want them to stop.
- Stop communicating with them after you have notified them of your warning.
- Sue the harasser for damages in small claims court.
Suing for Violation of Protection Order
Violating a civil protection order is not only an act of civil contempt but also a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment. If the harasser violates the protection order granted to you by the court, you should report the incident to the authorities immediately. Document what happened including dates, times, and names of witnesses. If the police fail to respond to your calls, you may go to the police station and make a voluntary statement of the incident. Save any communication such as answering machine recordings, caller ID reports, or emails. Here are a few numbers to remember in such cases:
- Call 911 if you need emergency assistance such as the fire department or an ambulance
- Call 311 if there is no immediate threat to life or property
Suing for Emotional Distress
If you fear for your safety or that of your family and it is causing you emotional distress, you may be able to sue for damages in small claims court. In civil cases, it helps to check if you meet the legal requirements to sue for harassment and emotional distress. Laws may vary by state, but here are the most common reasons that hold in court:
- Intentional behavior – You must be able to prove in court that the harasser has gone through planning and has a degree of intention to harm you emotionally. Reckless behaviors that were not planned to cause harm may also hold up in court.
- Extreme behavior – This comes in the form of outrageous acts that cross the threshold of social norms.
- Direct causation – You must be able to prove in court that the harassment was the direct cause of the emotional distress. Documents such as psychological and medical records will serve as effective evidence.
- Severity – Any feeling that becomes debilitating and requires psychiatric care will hold up in court.
How to Sue Someone for Harassment with DoNotPay
If the harassment has resulted in you incurring damages that cause physical pain, emotional distress, loss of reputation, destruction of property, or financial damages, then you can sue someone for harassment in small claims court. However, in most cases, victims don’t know where to start or are overwhelmed by the entire process. This is where DoNotPay can help! All you have to do is:
- Sign-in to DoNotPay and find the Sue Now service
- Enter the dollar amount you are owed
- Select whether you want a demand letter or court filing forms
- Choose the reason for the lawsuit and submit any applicable details, including photo proof and a statement
That’s all there is to it! Based on your decision, DoNotPay will provide a demand letter or court filing forms for you. We’ll even mail a copy of your demand letter to the individual you are suing! We also give you a downloadable PDF so you can send it in yourself.
What Else Can DoNotPay Do?
With DoNotPay, you can sue anyone with a press of a button! Have a problem with a company? Use Sue Now for problems with:
But that’s not all DoNotPay can do. You can create all kinds of legal documents, all within in one app:
- Parenting Plan
- Non-Disclosure Agreement
- Independent Contractor Agreement
- Bill of Sale
- LLC Operating Rules Agreement
- Residential Lease Agreement
- Prenuptial Agreement