If you are thinking of the low hassle way of taking up legal action of small sums between $5000 and $10,000 against an individual or a firm, the small claims court is the way to go. This threshold varies by state. But you have to be careful and be confident you have a case before going to the small claims court. The essence of a small claims court is to make it easy for everyone and to avoid expensive and lengthy lawsuits. On the day of the hearing, all you have to do is go to the court with your evidence. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to a lawyer but some states demands that you come alone. The small claims court is a cost-effective and easy process.
If you are stuck with a builder who messed up your bathroom, or you bought something, and the shop refuses to make a refund, here’s a guide to help you on how to leverage the small claims court.
File a Complaint
You will have to file a complaint with your county. Speak to the clerk of your county’s court, many courts have documents where you fill out the information regarding your specific case – most times, a summons for the other party and a complaint which is you. Usually, you will have to pay for the filing of your case. The firm or individual being sued must receive a copy of the lawsuit in other to defend themselves.
Preparing your case
It doesn’t matter whether you are the plaintiff or defendant in a small claims court, it is important that you show up in court so that your side of the case can be heard. If you are absent, it is most likely that the judge will not rule in your favor. Ensure to come with supporting documents and witnesses on the case. This can determine the success or failure of the lawsuit
How to comport yourself and dress in court
When going to a court, you must recognize that how you dress and your behavior in general can affect your lawsuit. Be respectful. If you do not agree with the judge or the other party, do not interrupt them. Be audible when answering questions – don’t shake or nod your head. If you are getting angry or irritated at the way the process is going, pause for a moment and take a deep breath. Lastly, dress correctly – no shorts, t-shirt or sneakers.
Collecting your money after winning
Losing in a small claims court is not the end of the road, you can file an appeal if you are the defendant, but if you are the plaintiff, the case is simply over. But before you do this, you must have fresh evidence or new information that backups your appeal that the judge ruled the case in error. With this, you can find yourself winning the case. When you do, you need to collect the money from the other party who will definitely not want to pay you. You can ask for a lien or garnishment against the other party’s property. This, you have to do yourself, but the court can assist by giving you an order of authorization for this collection.
When someone takes you to court or vice versa, there are expectations of how you hope the process turns out. In a court case, there’s no such thing as a good case because anything can happen. The small claims court is not designed to punish people or prove points. It is basically about who owes what and to whom? Be realistic with your expectations and brace yourself for anything. It will help you manage your emotions during the process.
Small claims court is a good and cost-effective way of resolving other suits or small collections without necessarily needing an attorney. They are a great place to seek legal solutions to problems.