Factors to consider before Filing in Small Claims Court

There are several factors to consider before filing in a small claims court. The proceedings in a small claims court also known as, “the people’s court” are informal, normally filed by an individual and often without an attorney. It is an inexpensive and quick way to file a suit against another person for certain types of damages.

The amount of damages claimed may differ from state to state often ranging from $250 to $7000. Typically, suits permitted to be filed in small claims court are, but not limited to, debt collections such as medical bills, property damage caused by a motor vehicle, and claims filed by landlords for back rent. To file claims such as these, the claimant, the person filing the suit, will be responsible in proving their allegations. Receiving a favorable judgment does not insure the defendant, the person being sued, will comply with the order to pay warded monetary damages; when this happens it is best to seek legal advice from an attorney.

Small claims court is not designed for suits where an individual seeks monetary damages that exceed over $7000. Monetary damages cannot be split between law suits, for example, once a claim has been filed in a small claims court no other claim can be filed in another court for the same issue. Further, there are certain types of claims that cannot be filed in small claims court such as professional malpractice, child support or alimony, and probate matters, among others. Because small claims court is for suits where only monetary damages are awarded, an individual cannot file a claim in small claims court to force another person to repair a damaged item nor can an individual sue for pain and suffering.

Anyone 18 years of age or older can file a suit in small claims court, a parent or guardian must file the suit if the individual is under the age of 18. Depending on each state, it may be required that a suit be filed in small claims court in the same county where the issues for the complaint took place. Normally, a small claims complaint form can be obtained from the county clerk within the small claims court. Filing fees for filing a complaint form, although minimal, can vary from state to state.

This information is not intended to offer legal advice as with all legal matters it is best to speak to attorney. Each state and jurisdiction may differ; therefore, to gain a better understanding of the process for filing in small claims court, visit your local county clerk’s office. Once all the factors have been considered and depending on the nature of the circumstances, filing in a small claims court is a simple, inexpensive and speedy process to file a law suit.