Classmate Spilled Coffee On My Laptop - Broken

  1. My classmate and I were studying this morning for our final in nursing theory. She accidentally spilled her coffee on my laptop and now it is broken (fried, won't start). Is she responsible? I tried to talk to her and she feels like she doesn't owe me anything.


    I get that it was an accident but at the same time, I am out a 650 dollar laptop because of her clumsiness. She removed the lid of the coffee and then accidentally bumped it which caused it to spill all over my laptop. I lost my files and assignments which were saved on the laptop and it will not turn on now.


    I was trying to not make a big deal of it because we both had to take a final exam. To be honest, I wasn't mad at the time as I realize stuff happens. She at first offered to pay for the laptop but after the final stated that she cannot pay for it and mentioned that she had a child and lived in a one-income household. I am not sure how to proceed. I have texted her and have not received a response back. Do I take her to small claims court or what?

    I cannot personally afford to purchase another laptop at this time. Advice?
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  2. 37 Comments

  3. by   Kuriin
    Take out the harddrive to keep your files and make her pay for the repair.
  4. by   waterdrifter
    I do feel really bad for her sake. At the same time however, I feel horrible on my end. All of my nursing theory papers were saved on this laptop as well as two quarters of lecture notes for theory and patho-pharm - all of them gone now if I cannot recover them.

    I will take it to a reliable repair shop soon in hopes that they can clean and recover my files. In the event that I am not able to do so, do you think that I should pursue other options? I realize that this was certainly an accident but at the same time, I can't help but blame her. What is your advice beyond trying to recover my files?
  5. by   Edina
    I would hold her accountable for the cost of repairs/replacement. I am a mother of two in a single income family & things are tight right now. I would pay for repairs/replacement if I were to damage my friends computer even if it was an honest accident.

    But ask yourself, is this worth losing a friend over? But if she doesn't accept responsibility for damaging your stuff, maybe she's not a friend with having.
  6. by   waterdrifter
    Thank you so much for your input.

    I genuinely feel that it was an accident but at the same time, if I were to render a friend's laptop useless, I would certainly offer to foot the bill. I appreciate that you bring up the question of whether or not if it is worth it to lose a friend over. It is a good question and I do appreciate her as a friend so no, I wouldn't want to lose that. The fact that I've tried to communicate via text since the incident including the invoice for my laptop purchase, and the fact that she hasn't responded, makes me wonder exactly how she feels about the situation. Just for my sake, I am going to campus security and fling a report of the incident to make sure that there is a bona fide paper trail regarding the incident. I have permission from the three witnesses of the event to include them in the report.

    Like I said, I feel horrible to come to this but I have tried communicating with the person responsible and have not yet received a reply. I understand that life and finances can be rough, especially during nursing school, but it is also hard on my end -- I cannot afford another computer if she cannot replace the one that was destroyed which would detract from my overall experience. I use the laptop for ATI, Shadowhealth, reviewing powerpoints, and taking lecture notes. I just feel so helpless as to what to do, because like you said, I appreciate her as a friend and do not want to lose her
  7. by   jess.mont
    That stinks all around - I'm sorry you're dealing with this. In the future, you might make sure that you save everything to Google Drive. It's free and then everything will be in the cloud where you can access it if something like this happens again...which hopefully it won't!

    I hope your friend does the right thing.
  8. by   Simplistic
    If it was an accident, than no, I would not ask her to pay.
  9. by   Purple_Clover
    If I were broke, I would ask for them to pay. If they don't pay there's not much you can do. You can try to take them to small claims court, but usually that system is very clogged and can take years to get a hearing.
  10. by   ItsThatJenGirl
    Let this be a lesson to always back up your stuff - in the cloud, on a flashdrive, google drive, etc. It's not her fault you didn't have a backup. That's on you.

    I'd probably ask her if she would help pay for a new laptop, but would realize that ultimately it's my responsibility. You know there's a risk of this when you take your electronics out into the world.

    Taking her to small claims court for $650 is pretty ridiculous, so I hope you don't actually do that.
  11. by   Double-Helix
    You can get a decent refurbished laptop at best buy for around $200-250. I would expect an honest person to take responsibility for the consequences of their actions- even accidental- I can understand why $650 might be impossible for a single parent in nursing school. Asking her to pay for the cost of a laptop that will be functional for your, even if not equal to the one that was broken, may be a good compromise. But it’s likely you’ll have to get someone else (like a lawyer) to get her to give you money. She’s clearly avoiding your texts in hopes that you just drop it. And if you end up paying a lawyer $200 to get her to pay for a $200 laptop, you really haven’t gained anything. So as you decide what to do, be sure to weigh in the costs of potential legal fees.

    P.S. Simplistic, just because the damage was accidental doesn’t absolve this woman from culpability. If I accidentally rear end someone with my car, I’m still liable for those damages.
  12. by   m1lkofamnesia
    Oh wow, this sucks. Yes, she definitely needs to pay SOMETHING. Probably not the full $650 (how old was the laptop?) since it's a used laptop. Perhaps she can pay $200-300 and you could get yourself a nice netbook, great for class. As someone previously mentioned, Google Drive will be your best friend--you can save everything to it online, so you'll never risk losing your files.

    So sorry that this has happened. I hope it works out!
  13. by   Apple-Core
    Ethically, yes, she should at the very least contribute to a replacement or repair of the damaged laptop. Very few people would purposefully damage a laptop - most insurance claims are due to accidents, not intentional damage.

    How would she feel if the roles were reversed?
  14. by   caliotter3
    If she were looking at this responsibly, she would pay at least 50% of the used value. Her responsibility does not lie with the fact that she is a single mother or not. That is not a reason to beg off from doing the right thing. JMO

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