When you can use Small Claims Court
If you believe that you have a legal claim against a person or party (for example, a business or corporation) that is less than $6,000, you may consider filing that claim in Small Claims Court. Small Claims Court has several advantages over filing in “upper court” (Superior or Circuit Court):
- The filing fees and court costs are usually lower.
- The rules of procedure and evidence are relaxed.
- The whole process usually takes less time.
There are, however, potential disadvantages to filing your lawsuit in Small Claims Court. As the person initiating the lawsuit, you waive your right to a jury trial. This isn’t always a disadvantage, but if you feel that you have a “sympathetic” claim, it’s possible that a jury would be on your side more than a judge would. The person defending the lawsuit has the opportunity to request a jury trial. Such a request moves the claim from Small Claims Court to “upper court.” While, again, this isn’t necessarily a disadvantage, it creates an extra step that can be both confusing and cost time. Finally, the relaxed rules of procedure and evidence can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it makes preparing for the hearing/trial easier for you. On the other hand, those rules exist to provide order; without those rules, it’s easier for the person defending against the claim to create chaos.
Should you get an attorney?
While you don’t need to hire an attorney whether you are initiating or defending a lawsuit in Small Claims Court, hiring an attorney is certainly something you should consider. There are still rules and procedures. Documents must be drafted and sent to the opposing party. If you win your claim and receive a judgment against the opposing party, you still have to collect on that judgment. The court will not automatically dip into the other person’s checking account—if the other person even has a checking account—and pay you what you are owed. I can take care of all of this for you. For a flat fee, which I will provide you with ahead of time, I’ll initiate or defend a lawsuit for you in Small Claims Court (or even in “upper court”).
Serious business, serious help
In a way, Small Claims Court is less “severe” than “upper court,” but Small Claims Court is still very serious business with potentially serious outcomes. Use me instead of tackling it on your own. That’s what I’m here for. I look forward to hearing from you.