DEAR HARRIETTE: My cousin helped me move into my new apartment recently. He offered to put up a few shelves and mount my TV to the wall. He told me he could handle it on his own and that I should unpack. While I was home alone the next day, I heard a big crash. The TV had fallen off the wall, and the wall and TV were completely ruined. I called my cousin to tell him what happened and haven’t heard back. Weeks have passed, and I had to pay a lot of money to repair the wall, purchase a new TV and pay for correct mounting.
I know my cousin didn’t mean for that to happen, but he cost me extra money by volunteering to do something I now know he did not know how to do. He has not taken responsibility. I want him to at least help me cover the expenses. Should I reach out to small claims? -- Dodging My Calls
DEAR DODGING MY CALLS: Before going to court, is there another family member who might be able to intervene? What about your cousin’s parents? If there is a family elder who could be asked to speak to your cousin about his negligence, start there. Appeal to this person to get your cousin to talk to you about what happened, apologize and offer to share in the cost of the damage.
If this cannot happen or nothing comes of this intervention, you can go to small claims court with your receipts and photos of the damage. You may be able to recoup some of your expenses, but this will likely hurt your relationship.