Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions


What is a Small Claims Court?

A small claims court is the part of a state’s court system that allows a person to sue for a limited amount of money damages. The amount that one can sue for depends on the state of residence, but it often doesn’t exceed more than $5,000.00.

Small claims courts require no attorney to be present for either the plaintiff or the defense. The proceedings are not recorded and appeal rights are not granted. Lastly, no jury is present in court, and judgments are made by magistrates (lawyers that act as judges in the case)

What Kind of Cases do Small Claims Courts Process?

The most commonly heard cases in small claims courts are for damaged property or unpaid debts. However, other cases can include unpaid rent (back rent), breach of contract and medical bills. As long as the claims don’t exceed more than the state’s requirement for a small claims court, these cases will be heard.

Small Claims courts will not hear cases that are outside of the realm of money damages. This can include libel and damage to a person’s reputation.

Are Small Claims Courts Expensive?

Small claims courts take out the majority of expenses that are found in standard law courts. Attorney fees are nonexistent, and while there are expenses for filing and processing fees, these are often much less in a small claims court.

How do I Tell the Defendant that I’m Taking Them to a Small Claims Court?

Once a plaintiff files a date for a small claims appearance, he must let the defendant know within a certain amount of time that he plans to carry out legal action. The plaintiff can contact the defendant himself, or he can have a legal team write up a demand letter for him. Demand letters are formal documents which tell the defendant that if the money is not paid in full, court action will be forthcoming.

What if I Can’t Find the Person I Want to Take to Small Claims Court?

There are legal ways to locate a person and warn them that you plan to take them to court. If you can’t find the person that you want to sue, you can begin a skip tracking procedure which will help locate him. Skip tracking is simply the process of locating an individual through a “paper trail” of documentation and records that are available to the public.

What if the Person is Outside of the State in Which I Live?

If the person you would like to sue is outside of the state, you can still file a claim against them. However, the defendant can contest this and it may take longer than normal before the actual court date occurs.

How Long do I Have to File a Small Claims Case?

Different time limits are required for different court cases in a small claims court. To ensure that you meet all deadlines for the case, make sure you have prepared all legal documentation beforehand. For more information, you can find information regarding your state’s statute of limitations.

What Happens if I’m Countersued by the Defendant?

If you are countersued, it means the defendant has filed a claim against you. In a small claims court, the two claims are usually filed at the same time, and are resolved in court on the same day.

Are There Jury Trials Available in a Small Claims Court?

Jury trials are not available at small claims court. Judgment is made by the acting magistrate in the case.

What Happens When I Win a Small Claims Case?

If the plaintiff has won the case, they can begin the process of enforcing judgment on the defendant. The court system is not required to collect your money for you. Instead, this process is done outside of the court, using a number of different procedures. This could include placing a lien on a business or residence, garnishing the debtor’s wages or freezing the debtor’s bank accounts.


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