Do I need an attorney for a collections case if I want to be awarded court costs?

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2011

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Do I need an attorney for a collections case if I want to be awarded court costs?

I will be going to small claims court soon to try and get a judgment on a promissory note. I do not have representation, and I will be handling the case myself. However, I was told by an attorney that I cannot be awarded court costs as part of the judgment unless an attorney handles the case. Is this true? I would really prefer to handle this myself and avoid having to pay an attorney.

Asked on September 15, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You should be able to be awarded the literal "court costs"--e.g. filing fees. These are, however, typically fairly small, especially in small claims court, so they probably don't make much difference either way. You should be able to check directly with the court to confirm this--courts particularly try to be helpful to pro se (representing themselves) litigants.

But you can't recover any legal fees if you represent yourself--you can only recover legal fees if paid to an attorney. So you cannot recover anything for the time and effort you have put into the matter or will put into the matter in the future. Of course, for a large enough note--say, $1,500 or more, it may be worth hiring a lawyer and potentially absorbing his/her cost to increase your chance of a successful outcome.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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