In a civil suit involving repossession of a car in a remote city in California, it seems obvious that I can sue for the airfare to that remote city. But, what about hotel and meal expenses (or other "travel expenses" in normal business operations)?

If I spend 5 days in the remote city, could I just claim a standardized per diem? Or, will I need exact receipts for every hotel night and every meal? Can I even claim meals?

To be clear, I needed to be in that remote California city to first repo the car, and to then fix it (so that it was drivable back to my original California city). That all took 5 days.

2 Answers 2


You can sue for anything in a civil suit; but it's probably a good strategy to not ask for too much. If you stick to standard per diem, the jury or judge may look more favorably upon your damage claims. The jury can always award you less than you ask. And you may very well settle out of court, anyway. For per diem suggestions, check out Travel Reimbursements - CalHR.

  • Am I still likely to need the receipts for every hotel night and every meal? I wonder if you are saying that I need receipts for every item and, additionally, the amounts should stay under the maximums at that website. I am missing half of these receipts, so was hoping I could just use a per diem without receipts.
    – mickey
    Feb 28, 2018 at 18:15
  • 1
    I'm not going to give you legal advice on your case. Any amounts you want to claim and any evidence for those claims (receipts, your justification) are entirely your choice. What to ask for is your legal strategy and your choice. Feb 28, 2018 at 18:24

You are probably not going to succeed in getting travel or lodging expenses, since you could have delegated the repo job to someone local, unless you can show that doing it yourself was cheaper, since you have a legal duty to mitigate your damages and to show that they were caused by the breach (unless your agreement specifically provides otherwise). Even then, you would probably only get travel and not lodging or dining expenses.

You are probably entitled to the fair market value of the repairs, if done by a professional, although if they can show that it cost you less to do the repairs, they could argue that to reduce your damages.

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