Small claims is a court system that is designed for cases of a less amount owed than a district or circuit court. Filing a small claims suit is generally for people who have been wrongfully done by another person or business either by, but not limited to; selling them inferior products, property damages, owing them money or not abiding by terms of an agreement. These types of cases are usually presented without attorneys, therefore save the plaintiff and defendant money. However, attorneys can be hire but in most cases, even if a case is won, legal fees will not be paid by the defendant.
Filing small claims is not too difficult in most areas. The first step to filing small claims is finding out the maximum limit that the state allows. This varies by each individual state and ranges anywhere from 1,500.00 to 15,000, with 5,000 being the mean. Once that has been determined and filing small claims seems to be appropriate, the next step is to visit the court house. This is where the actual filing occurs.
Be sure to prepare 3 copies of all of the contracts, receipts, correspondence, phone records or any other papers that are evidence of the wrongful doing. One set of copies will be for the plaintiff, the defendant and the filing. Small claims packets are available for education purposes. If time is limited, a packet should first be picked up and read for information regarding the filing and court process. Then return to the court house at a later date for the actual filing. There will be a small fee for the process of filing. Small claims processing fees varies by location and/or amount the plaintiff is asking for. This can range from 30.00 to 200.00 in many states. This fee will be due on the date of filing, so phone ahead if that might be a problem.
This packet will contain all of the necessary information for filing. Small claims usually must be filed in the in the county to which the wrongful doing took place. This is the place where to transaction occurred, where a service was performed or could be where the defendant lives or works. This information will also contain other important things, such as statue of limitations and deadlines.
When sending a set of copies to the person/business being sued, it's very important to send these documents by certified mail with proof of delivery to the actual defendant. This will serve as proof that the person/business is aware that a case has been filed against them and can serve as a sort of "hearing".
After filing small claims, a date will be assigned for attending court. If in a hurry, ask the circuit clerk for a time line and the next available date. This date can vary on circumstances by each individual county. Be sure to be prepared. Write down any helpful information, arrange for any witness to be present, bring all evidence and paperwork and dress properly . Any witnesses must be someone who actually seen personally the wrongful doing. Not someone who is "he said, she said".