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A small claims case is a legal action filed in county court to settle minor legal disputes among parties where the dollar amount involved is $8,000 or less, excluding costs, interest, and attorney fees.
No, it is not necessary to have a lawyer. Small claims court is considered a "peoples court" and a lawyer is not required. Clerk’s office personnel will provide you with the necessary forms for filing a small claims case.
Any person(s) 18 years or older or any individual(s) doing business as a company may file a small claims case. A parent or guardian may file on behalf of a minor child. Each person who is a party to the claim must appear at the Clerk’s office to sign the necessary paperwork in the presence of a deputy clerk, or the signatures must be notarized.
The judge will require mediation because mediation is economical. The settlement is viewed as fair by both parties. There is one court meeting. You do not need to subpoena witnesses or evidence and depend on their presence at trial. You do not have to conduct extensive trial preparation.
Mediation preserves personal and business relationships. It allows debtors to arrange repayment plans, avoid judgment, and preserve credit reputation. Mediation protects privacy and avoids the publicity of the trial. Both parties remain in control and participate in a "win-win" solution. The agreement is final and the dispute resolved.
Yes, a trial by jury may be requested by the person(s) filing the small claims case [plaintiff(s)] upon written demand at the time the case is filed. Someone being filed against [defendant] may request a jury trial within five days after service of notice or at the pretrial conference.
If, at any time in the proceedings a settlement is reached between the parties, the plaintiff [person(s) who filed suit] must notify the Clerk’s office in writing of the settlement.
The court does not collect money damages for you. You may wish to consult with an attorney for advice on how to collect your judgment.
If you choose to place a judgment lien against any individually owned real property of the defendant’s following the award of a judgment in your favor, you should obtain a certified copy of your judgment and have it recorded in the official records at the Clerk’s Official Records Department. Fees for recording are set by statute and are subject to change by legislative action. Contact the Clerk’s office for current fees.