Can You Sue Someone For Breaking Your Cell Phone?

Can You Sue Someone For Breaking Your Cell Phone?


Publish Date: November 8, 2021

Last Update: November 7, 2023

Can You Sue Someone For Purposely Breaking Your iPhone or Android?

Smartphones are the most important part of our lives in 2022. They cost hundreds and even thousands of dollars, which is why we spend a lot of time protecting them and taking care of them. If someone breaks your phone, whether by accident or on purpose, then it can cause you a lot of emotional distress. You may not realize that you are actually able to sue someone for breaking your smartphone. You will need an attorney to represent you. We will go over all the legal matters in this article.

Sue Someone For Breaking Your Cell Phone
Can You Sue Someone For Breaking Your Phone

Section 43 of the information technology act refers to mobile phones as “computers” for simplicity. A computer, under this law, is any high-speed processing device that can store and process data. This law states that any “computer” that gets damaged, whether by accident or on purpose, can result in legal liability. That is, the person who damaged the phone/computer will need to pay damages to the owner of the device. 

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Can You Sue Someone For Breaking Your Cell Phone?

Can You Get In Big Trouble For Breaking A Person’s Cell Phone? 

Breaking someone’s phone counts as personal property damage. Let’s say that your friend bought a new phone, and they handed it to you in order to show it off. While you were holding it, you accidentally dropped it and caused it to crack. In this scenario, if your friend can prove in court that your negligence caused the damage, then you will need to pay for the damage. In order to prove negligence, your friend must prove that:

  • The phone was damaged as a result of your conduct
  • You did not take reasonable steps to care for the phone

Your friend has a claim in small claims, which means that your legal matter will be handled by a small claims court judge. These courts handle matters with a smaller amount of money, such as the cost of getting your phone fixed. If your friend quotes a repair price of $100 in court and manages to prove your negligence, then you will have to pay the quoted amount.

However, you must keep in mind that accidentally dropping the phone does not count as negligence itself. If you put the phone down in a precarious place, knowing full well that it had a chance of falling, then that counts as negligence. However, your friend still needs to prove this – through eyewitnesses, confessions, video footage, etc. 

Editor’s Note: Hidden GPS tracker apps can be installed in a cell phone to help you locate it if it is stolen!

What Are The Charges For Stealing Someone’s Cell Phone?

Stealing any item can turn into a criminal charge against you, and cell phones are no exception. Stealing of any item is called larceny, and it will immediately go on your criminal record and make it hard for you to get hired in the future.  If the value of the item stolen exceeds $1000 dollars, you can be charged with a felony. This can result in 1-3 years in prison if you have no past history of crime, and 2-4 years if you have a past record. These are the punishments for cell phones which are stolen without force, e.g by picking someone’s pocket. However, if the cell phone is stolen by force (e.g by threatening the other person with a weapon), then the punishment is more severe and can stretch to 7 years in prison.

Can You Do Jail Time For Breaking Someone’s Phone?

For the most part, accidentally breaking someone’s phone will not result in jail time. However, if the party can prove that you intentionally damaged their phone, then the case turns from negligence into vandalism, which is a criminal offense. There are some clauses that need to be fulfilled for the charge to go through:

  • The phone must belong to the other party, paid with their own money.
  • You did not have permission to be handling their phone 
  • You intentionally broke the phone, e.g by smashing it or throwing it on the ground.

If you physically assault someone while damaging their phone, then the criminal charge is even more grave. You may want to consider hiring an attorney to defend you.

What Should I Do If My Friend Broke My Cell Phone?

Friendship is a very valuable thing, and one misunderstanding or mistake is not what anyone wants to result in the end of a close friendship. So what should you do if your friend breaks your iPhone or Android cell phone? If your friend broke your phone, here’s what you need to know:

  1. Evaluate the situation and see if they broke it intentionally or unintentionally. 
  2. If the phone was broken intentionally and you have evidence of this (e.g eyewitnesses saw them smashing it), then this can turn into a criminal charge and they can get arrested. You can also take them to a small claims court and force them to pay for the damages. 
  3. If the phone was broken unintentionally, then you must evaluate the other person’s negligence. Were they not taking care of the phone properly, hence causing it to break? Were they aware that their actions could cause the phone to break? In this scenario, you can take them to a small claims court and make them pay up the value of the phone.

If you want to take them to pay damages, take the following steps:

  1. Make sure you know the full name of the person who broke your phone. If there are multiple people involved, make sure you know all of their names.
  2. Ask them for payment. Courts generally require that you try to get the settlement done outside of court first. If you simply ask your phone to pay up, then chances are they will do it and the matter won’t have to go any further.
  3. Find a suitable small claims court
  4. Fill out your court forms. Legal professionals will be available to help you through this process. 
  5. File the claims. This is the part where you actually file your lawsuit. You hand over the filled forms to the clerk’s offices of the court. Be prepared to pay a fee to the court at this point.
  6. Serve your claim. This is when the court hands a notice to the person who broke your phone, informing them about your claim.
  7. Go to court and make a legal claim. The court will continue giving you legal updates up till the point when they set up a court date. The court advisor will let you know how to collect evidence and prepare for what you have to say. 

The reality is when a broken cell phone turns into a legal issue things can get quite messy. Demand letters, a claim in small claims courts, and court actions all can cause even more stress to the situation. And that is not even getting started with the attorney fee or issues if the person won’t pay after a judgment has been made. The cost of hiring a law firm or going to court can be far more than the actual cost of the cell phone so try and be reasonable and use good judgment. You don’t want to wreck your bank account even more or ruin a friendship over a broken cell phone.

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