INITIATE A SMALL CLAIM ACTION:
- The amount of money you seek to recover may not exceed $10,000 in cases brought by a natural person (a natural person is defined as a human being). The limit for all other cases brought by a business, corporation, or other business entity, remains at $5,000.
- You must prepare a small claims form available from this site or in the District Court office.
- The form must be filed in the District Court office and a $35 filing fee must be paid. You can file the claim by mail by providing a signed small claim form, check or money order for $35 and a self-addressed stamped envelope to return copies back.
- Once the claim has been filed, the plaintiff must have the claim served on the defendant at least 10 days prior to the hearing date. Service may be done by: Sheriff's office, a process server, a person of legal age not connected with the case, or by certified mail, restricted delivery with a return receipt requested.
IF YOU HAVE BEEN SERVED WITH A SMALL CLAIMS ACTION:
- Review instructions on back of claim form
- You can make an out-of-court settlement with the plaintiff before the hearing date. The plaintiff must then notify the Court in writing that the case has been dismissed.
- If you have a claim against the plaintiff, you may file a counterclaim. You must file the counterclaim with a $35 filing fee
- Counterclaim must be filed per service rules.
How Do I Collect My Money?
Once the judgment is issued, the clerk will enter it into the civil docket of the court and will provide a certified copy of the judgment to the prevailing party for no additional cost. A money judgment in your favor does not necessarily mean that the money will be paid. The Small Claims Court does not collect the judgment for you.
If no appeal is taken and the judgment is not paid within 30 days, the prevailing party may seek to enforce the judgment through the collections process, which could include garnishing the defendant's wages or bank accounts; or seeking to obtain personal property of the debtor.
Remember, the clerks cannot give you legal advice so you may need the assistance of an attorney or collection agency, whose fees may be paid by the debtor.
For more complete information regarding small claims please visit the "Introduction to Small Claims Court"