How to file in small claims court
with free court forms and in-depth information about garnishment and collection
Use the information here to learn more about the small claims
court process. Discover who can file, the types of claims and amount of debt
that can be handled in small claims court plus preparing a defense and how to
collect if you're awarded a small claims court judgment. You'll also learn
about the garnishment process, exempt income and how to claim these exemptions
plus, how to file a small claims court appeal.
Rules for Small
Claims Court: Listed by State
Use these States rules to determine how
much money money you can win in Small Claims Court, where to file and how to
serve the official court papers.
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Small claims court is a quick, informal and lowcost
way to resolve disputes over money debts. The court considers and
resolves cases involving money debts only and the amount considered varies by
State and may range from a low of $2000 to a high of $15,000. (call your local
court to verify the amount).
Small Claims Court General Rules
- Attorney or other legal paraprofessionals are allowed in most
states however, they are almost never needed if you PREPARE!
- Claims cannot exceed state-specific dollar amounts;
- You cannot bring a claim on behalf of another person;
- Individuals, corporations, partnerships and associations can
file a claim in Small Claims Court BUT only if represented by a non-lawyer.
- Only the plaintiff, defendant, and witnesses can participate in
a small claims court trial (if the judge agrees, exceptions can be made)
NOTE: Small claims courts do not issue any
order requiring someone to do something or not do something, such as a
restraining order or an injunction.
Types of Claims that can be filed in Small Claims Court (these
are just a few examples)
- Damage to your *car or personal property by someone with no
- You are owed money by someone who has failed to repay
- You are owed wages by someone who refuses to pay you;
- A tenant has failed to pay you rent;
- Landlord / Tenant problems (i.e. refusal to return
- You were sold defective merchandise and vendor refuses a
- A laundry/drycleaner lost or damaged your clothes but
refuses to pay to repair/replace your clothes;
- Car Repairs
- Purchased Used Car (New cars usually fall under Lemon
- Collecting Bad Debts
- Property damage
- Product and Warranty problems
Filing Fees Small Claims Court
There is is a small fee (national average is $20) for filing
your claim in small claims court. This is payable at the time you file the
notice of small claim forms either in person or by mail.
If you win, this fee is considered part of the costs to bring
the claim to court and is added to the judgment thus allowing you to recover
the fee from the defendant.