Small claims court (what cases are handled, how to file, proceedings)
To learn about a small claims court on laws.com click on the “court” section found on the top of the page.
On this page scroll to the “types of court” drop-down menu and click on the “Small Claims Court” section.
A small claims court is a legal venue responsible for administering and evaluating cases aligned with civil law. The small claims court possesses limited jurisdiction to observe and preside over cases between private litigants.
Small claims courts will preside over disputes between parties for prospective settlement amounts of $15,000 or less. The typical case heard in a small claims court will involve disputes between tenants and landlords, breaches of contracts, matters involving services rendered or cases involving property damages so long as the expected monetary settlement does not exceed $15,000. This cap will fluctuate based on state law.
To file a legal matter in a small claims court an individual is required to file documentation with their local court system. All small claims courts throughout the United States will use specific forms to initiate a hearing. Although precise documentation will vary by jurisdiction, the majority of local court systems will require a filing party to fulfill two small claims court requirements. First, the filing party must submit a statement of claim. This legal document notifies the accused party that a legal action is being taken against them. The statement of claim provides reasons for the initiation of a legal action along with the basic information for the parties involved.
The party being served with the documentation must submit a response to the filing party within a certain time frame. The response will notify the filing party that the defendant rejects or accepts the charges placed against them.
If the claimant chooses to bring civil action against a government department or agency, the individual must file the statement of notice within 90 days of the incident.
Individuals will file these documents to secure compensation for damages imposed on them. Small claims matters are heard by a judge. The presiding judge, after review of all evidence and testimonials, will decide on the presence of a settlement for the filing party or a refusal of compensation.