How can I convert non-monetary damage into money owed?

Updated: Apr 27

Get damages for the difference you actually paid versus what you would have paid under your agreement.

($ you paid to replace the service) – ($ you should have paid if service was provided as contracted for) + Additional Costs = Damages

Example Scenario: Your Homeowners Association writes you a letter informing you a tree on your property has grown out of control and must be trimmed back. The letter warns if action isn’t taken by the deadline, you will receive a big fine. You sign a contract with a landscaper to trim the tree for $1,200, right before the deadline. However, the landscaper fails to do the job.

The next day you frantically search for a new landscaper. However, because of the short notice, he will charge you $2500. You can bring a small claims case against the original landscaper because he failed to provide the service you and he contracted for.


  • $2500 - $1200 = $1300

Did you have to spend any additional money because of the failed service?

You can include additional costs incurred in your damage calculation.

For example, if the second landscaper couldn’t trim the tree by the deadline. You can include any late fees your Home Owners Association charged in your damage calculation.

Ex: The alternative landscaper you hired couldn’t trim your tree until 2 days after the expiration date of the deadline from your Home Owners Association. You incur $400 in late fees. You can add this into your calculation as consequential damage.


  • $2500 - $1200 + $400 = $1700.

What if you spent money in anticipation of the service?

You can include additional damages for the money you spent because you relied on the agreement you had.

For example, you order a bike that requires a special tool. The bike shop cannot provide the bike even though you had an agreement. You can include the money you spent for the specialty tool in the amount of your damages.

Make sure you can back up the assessment of your damages.

A damages calculation is not a wish list. You must be able to prove your damages with certainty and be prepared for a defendant to challenge your damages accounting. This means keeping your receipts and other documentation that shows the money you spent.

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