Laws and Procedures for Small Claims Filing

Small claims filings are a very helpful way for individuals who are owed money to seek recovery through binding legal channels, rather than trying to collect themselves. Many people file small claims without an attorney; all it takes is a basic understanding of the process required.

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Small Claims Court: How to Navigate the Rules and Procedures

Small claims court is where small disputes are heard and adjudicated. There are small claims courts in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The types of claims that are typically brought in small claims court include: landlord/tenant disputes, property damage disputes, breach of contract, auto accidents, and disputes over unpaid loans.

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How do I start a small claims action?

Go to the appropriate small claims court (some even have evening hours). State laws may require you to use the small claims court: in your jurisdiction, where the person you want to sue resides, where the accident occurred, or where you bought the defective merchandise. For information on your state’s small claims courts see our small claims resources page.

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How do I present evidence in a small claims case?

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.

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What happens after filing a small claims action?

After you file your small claims action, depending on local practice, the small claims court may send a copy of the claim form to the party you are suing by registered or certified mail, or have you hire a process server to deliver it to the defendant.

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