How do I present evidence in a small claims case?

UPDATED: Jul 13, 2023Fact Checked

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Jeffrey Johnson

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Mary Martin

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Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

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UPDATED: Jul 13, 2023

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UPDATED: Jul 13, 2023Fact Checked

If the matter goes to an actual trial, even in small claims court, you may need witnesses who will actually testify to what they actually observed. The small claims court may not accept an affidavit or someone’s out of court or hearsay statement.

In some cases you may need original documents, and must be able to introduce them just as at a regular trial – and this sometimes can be very difficult. (Documents must be authenticated to show that they are what they purport to be.) Some small claims courts allow you to introduce copies of bills and other records, but only if you have sent the other side copies sufficiently far in advance.

You may need experts who would testify to things that ordinary laymen are not available. For example, the damage to your car may have to be proven – and as a layperson does not know what it costs to fix cars – it may take an expert in car repairs to prove the damages done. If you haven’t been able to afford to have the repairs made you’ll need some expert to say what it will cost. Your statement, “they said it would cost $X,” is hearsay; the other side can’t cross examine the person who told that to you unless the person was in court. If you had the repair made you’ll have a repair bill. While that may show what you paid – it is not necessarily what you should have paid.

Case Studies: Presenting Evidence in Small Claims Cases

Case Study 1: Witness Testimony

John was involved in a small claims case where he sought compensation for property damage caused by Sarah’s negligence. In court, John presented two witnesses, Mark and Sarah’s neighbor, who testified to observing the incident. Their firsthand accounts and detailed descriptions of the event played a crucial role in influencing the court’s decision in favor of John.

Case Study 2: Original Documents

In another small claims case, Sarah was seeking reimbursement for medical expenses resulting from an accident. To support her claim, Sarah needed to present original medical bills, doctor’s reports, and other relevant documents. However, Sarah encountered difficulties in obtaining authenticated copies of these documents, which affected her ability to prove the extent of her injuries and the associated costs.

Case Study 3: Expert Testimony

Mark found himself in a small claims case after his vehicle was damaged by John’s actions. To establish the damages and the cost of repairs, Mark enlisted the help of an expert in auto mechanics. The expert examined the vehicle and provided a professional assessment of the damages and the necessary repairs.

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Jeffrey Johnson

Insurance Lawyer

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Insurance Lawyer

Mary Martin

Published Legal Expert

Mary Martin has been a legal writer and editor for over 20 years, responsible for ensuring that content is straightforward, correct, and helpful for the consumer. In addition, she worked on writing monthly newsletter columns for media, lawyers, and consumers. Ms. Martin also has experience with internal staff and HR operations. Mary was employed for almost 30 years by the nationwide legal publi...

Published Legal Expert

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

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