Small Claims Court

Many people feel uncomfortable filing a lawsuit in a state court. It often costs a lot of money to file a claim with a repudiated lawyer—someone who can help you better navigate labyrinthine court procedures—and if you’re pursuing a small amount of money, hiring a lawyer could cost more than you’d receive.

Luckily, small claims procedures address these issues. These allow you to bring low-dollar cases to a judge who will help you resolve the issue while observing all the formalities of traditional court, just at a far lower rate. Different types of small claims cases exist, meaning there’s some flexibility regarding what qualifies.

But is your case eligible? Not all money disagreements qualify for small claims. According to Florida law, you can file a lawsuit for small claims if you cannot resolve a dispute with someone regarding them paying you less than $8,000. 

 Read on to learn more about small claims requirements. Likewise, call Olsen Law Firm, P.A. if you have additional questions about different types of small claims cases; we’re here to help and advise you through the legal process, and we offer free initial consultations.

Types of Small Claims Cases You Could File

If your dispute involves money, there’s already a good chance it may qualify. Those who initiate small claims cases are typically after a court order that requires the disputed party to pay you their debt. Also, most times, providing evidence of unpaid debt is simple.

 Once the creditor receives small claims judgment, they can employ collection strategies to recover their owed money.

 However, small claims cases come in many shapes and sizes. Some other disputes you can bring to court include:

  •     Loan repayment
  •     Failure to repair a device, appliance, or car properly
  •     An unreceived security deposit
  •     Damaged apparel and clothing from cleaning or alterations
  •     Animal bites and similar personal injury disputes (often resolved through insurance before making their way to court)
  •     Inability to meet terms of service contract (such as with contracted home renovation projects)
  •     Eviction disputes
  •     Restitution
  •     Slander, defamation, or libel
  •     Police brutality and false arrests
  •     Breach of warranty (for example, if an umbrella breaks in the first storm it encounters)

 Depending on your state, these rules may differ. Always consult with a legal professional before you attempt to open a case to determine whether you have a worthwhile shot at seeking compensation.

 It’s also important to know that some property is exempt from satisfying a judgment, meaning you cannot take it. The Court Clerk’s Office can give you a better explanation of exempt property.

Types of Cases You Cannot File

Regardless of your location, you can never use small claims to resolve a divorce, name change, bankruptcy, guardianship, or ask for emergency legal relief to prevent someone from performing an illegal act. 

 Litigants cannot file a claim against the federal government, a federal agency, or a federal employee for a dispute related to their employment. Instead, you should take these claims to federal court, the Tax Court, or the Court of Claims.

Who Can File?

To file for different types of small claims cases, you must:

  •     Be 18 years or older
  •     Be a parent or guardian for someone under 18 years of age
  •     Be anyone with a claim for $8,000 or less

What Happens After Filing?

Whomever you sue must get served a summons or notice alerting them to appear in court on the specified date. Both parties will have a pre-trial conference; each should come prepared to make their legal case.

Pre-Trial Conference

This informal process happens to determine the cause of action. The court may refer the case to mediation, at which point a certified and experienced mediator will attempt to reach a solution before the trial goes to court.

 If the mediator settles the dispute, they send notice of their settlement to the judge for approval. Unsettled disputes will next have a court date scheduled by the court system. 

 Should you not be able to appear at the pre-trial conference, you may have an attorney represent you. 

The Dispute Goes to Trial

You show up to court with all your documentation, witnesses, and other evidence on this day. Both you and the accused will have time to state your case, including using witness testimony. Much of this process plays out exactly as in other court systems.

Collecting Your Awarded Claim

If you win your case, you will receive a copy of the judgment in the mail. Take this to the Clerk’s office to have it certified. Then, take this copy to the Records Division at the Clerk’s office.

 They will create a lien of your judgment outlining what is owed by the defendant in their name. In the case of property disputes, the defendant must fully pay these claims before they can sell their property.

 This process may differ depending on what kind of property the defendant owes you. If you want to learn more about how the legal system will force the defendant to pay your debts should you win a case, give Olsen Law Firm, P.A. a call today. We would be more than happy to help you understand the process better so you can make an informed decision.

Hire a Small Claims Attorney

Realizing your ability to utilize the small claim process to solve monetary disputes is step number one. Now, you need to learn the process. Read more on our site about Georgia’s small claims court rules. 

 If you meet the qualifications of the types of small claims cases outlined in our list, we think you may be eligible for compensation in civil court. If you believe you have a case, reach out to a professional attorney on our team immediately to help you reach an agreement. The worst mistake people make in these situations is waiting.

 Give Olsen Law Firm, P.A. a call today at (352) 671-9777 for a free initial consultation. We’ll walk you through the steps of filing and handling all your paperwork, advising you throughout your journey while aggressively attempting to get compensation.

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About the Author

Pam Olsen

Ms. Olsen has practiced law since 1992. During her law school education and throughout career she knew, if it is not about people, she is not interested. Everything about people interests Ms. Olsen from the simple details of living to the most profound. She began her law career in a skyscraper in downtown Miami representing corporate interests. Within a VERY short time, Pam knew that side of the things in the world was not for her.

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