In everyday common terms and in the legitimate terminology, nuisance is something that causes irritation or annoyance. There are two major types of nuisance: a public and private nuisance. Whenever trouble is caused to society or the general public, it is classified as a public nuisance. On the contrary, if the nuisance interferes with the right of an individual person or a property, it is classified as a private nuisance.
Private nuisance in tort law
More specifically, in tort law, private nuisance protects the rights of one person to use his/her land for whatever purpose he may deem fit. The neighbors have no right to interfere for any reason.
In most cases, private nuisance lawsuits arise between neighbors. Some of the examples of private nuisance include: vibration, excessive light, loud music, pollution of smoke or soil, and much more. So, the private nuisance lawsuits come into play when one property owner is being negatively affected by his/her neighbor’s unwanted activities.
Private nuisance explained
Property owners can use their land for any purpose being the sole proprietor. However, any kind of interference from other parties is considered a private nuisance. For example, a neighbor keeps on playing music at the maximum volume late at night, the affected individual is entitled to sue the interfering party.
In event of a physical altercation, the affected individual is entitled to sue the interferer for ‘trespassing.’ Moreover, even if the trespass laws don’t apply, it will still be counted as an interference, and the affected individual can sue the neighbor under the theory of private nuisance.
The definition of private nuisance might vary from state to state. However, the following are the basic elements that need to be proved by the plaintiff or the property owner:
- The person who owns the place or property in a legal way
- Actions that depicted intervention by the other party
- The interference caused by the defendant was unreasonable
Elements of private nuisance
It’s essential to recognize the factors affecting it. The first primary part is obvious as only someone who has his/her stakes involved with the affected possession can prosecute. As far as the second element is concerned, it is important to understand whether the defendant’s act was intentional, or reckless. The third part is supposed to stop individuals from putting charges for minor aggravation In event of a particular interference that is deemed as substantial, the court will apply the standard of an ordinary person. As for whether the defendant’s behavior was intolerant, the court can apply a leveling check that weighs the hurt caused by the conduct against the burden of blocking the damage and therefore the utility of the act.
Legal remedies in a private nuisance case
If the use of the property is harmed due to the acts or omissions of another person, you can claim money damages, an injunction against the continuance of the nuisance. You may also have the right to self-help.
You might face a situation where you are afraid that any act by the defendant might cause you damage. In this case, to recover any money damages you don’t have to show any injury, physical damage, or harm to your property every time. This is because the definition of nuisance encompasses human activities that are indecent and offensive.
Maintaining a balance
The injunction is another solution for stopping nuisance. In addition to money damages, you might wish to remove nuisance completely from the equation. The injunction is a court order that binds the other party to refrain from carrying out a certain activity. This court order of injunction wouldn’t be applied until and unless you prove that if nuisance continues, it will cause you irreparable damage.
Courts try to make a settlement through a balancing test which is done to check whether potential injuries outweigh the harm caused by the defendant that constitutes private nuisance. The court will determine if by granting the injunction the harm being caused to you is minimal and the defendant might have to face bigger consequences, then so the court might just grant you money damages.
Engaging yourself in self-help doesn’t stop you from seeking judicial remedies. Moreover, a person who is involved in self-help is entitled to remove or destroy the nuisance completely, without unnecessarily inflicting damage to an individual or property. In case, you have to go to someone else’s property to stop nuisance, you must give a reasonable notice.
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