Texas Small Claims Court

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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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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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If you are embroiled in a legal dispute in Texas involving a contract, sum of money, or damages less than $5,000 in value, you have an affordable and easy litigation alternative in the Texas small claims court system. This form of litigation was invented as a streamlined way to resolve small-sum disputes without resorting to costly and complex court battles. Texas small claims are handled in the local Justice of the Peace Courts. Texas only allows money to be recovered in small claims, not personal property.

Dealing with issues such as landlord-tenant disputes, property damage, personal injury, and breach of contract, the Texas small claims courts are easy to navigate without a lawyer’s help and were designed for self-representation. However, you can also engage an attorney if you wish. The party filing a Texas small claims lawsuit is known as the plaintiff, while the person being sued is known as the defendant.

Claim Limit: Claims under $5,000in value.

Where to File: File your Texas small claim in the local Justice of the Peace Court in the county where the small claims defendant resides.

Types of Cases: Legal disputes concerning landlord-tenant, personal injury, property damage, breach of contract, and small sums.

Who Is Eligible: Individuals and business entities may file in small claims court. Minors who have not yet reached age 18 should have a qualified adult, such as a parent or legal guardian, file a small claim on their behalf.

Filing Your Claim: To file your Texas small claim, go to the Justice of the Peace Court in the county where the defendant or defendants reside. You will need to fill out a Small Claims Form with pertinent information, including contact information for both parties, a description of your claim, and documentation of your claim. After paying a small filing fee, your claim will be sent to the local sheriff for service and your claim will proceed. Be aware that you can only collect money in small claims; if you wish to collect personal property, you will need to file a Justice of the Peace Court claim.

If You Need Assistance: While court clerks and legal librarians operate on the threshold between the public and the court system, they are not always allowed to lend a hand in a specific case. State laws and court rules may prohibit them from doing or saying too much to help a specific litigant. If you find you need help with your small claim, you may want to contact a Texas small claims attorney or read the Texas Bar Association’s guide to filing a small claim. 

For more state-specific information and links to your state’s small claims court resources, see Small Claims Court Information and Links.

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