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How To Get Yourself Ready For Small Claims Court

by Jamie Nichols

If you have a dispute with someone—whether it be over money, property, or some other type of incident—you may be able to settle the dispute in small claims court. Small claims court is a place where everyday people can go before a judge to settle legal issues that are valued beneath a specific amount of money. Cases worth more than that prescribed amount will have to go to a district court. Small claims courts hear civil issues. They do not handle criminal matters or anything else not pertaining to civil problems. If you are going to a small claims court, you need to be prepared. The following tips will help you prepare for small claims court and hopefully lead to a win:

Learn How Small Claims Court Works

If you intend to sue someone for a civil matter, you need to know what you are getting into. Prior to filing your lawsuit, you should research the small claims court in your state and county. This will ensure you have the correct paperwork and follow the correct rules. There may be some things you are required to do before you go to court, such as send a demand letter to the defendant. This is not always the case in each state, so thoroughly research what you need to do for your case.

Be Prepared

Any type of legal litigation requires preparation, and small claims court is no exception. As you prepare your case, make sure you have the correct contact information for the defendant. You need this information correct for the defendant to be served.

You also need to be prepared to pay the filing fees. Keep a copy of your check written to the court and keep your receipts. If you win your case, these will likely be repaid to you by the defendant.

If you think the defendant will file a counterclaim against you, prepare yourself for that possibility. You need every piece of evidence you can get your hands on to not only prove your claim but to disprove a counterclaim. Even if you think you do not need certain pieces of evidence, bring it to court anyway. You never know what the judge will ask to see. Your evidence needs to be in the form of photos, documents, receipts, affidavits, and possibly even witnesses depending on the claim.

Know What You Are Going to Say

It can be nerve-racking to go before a judge, so you need to prepare. Know what you are going to say as you present your case. Expect a lot of questions from the judge and be prepared to answer them. Do not talk over the judge. If the judge interrupts you as you are talking, stop and listen to what they are saying. These cases move quickly, and you only have a limited amount of time.

for more information about small claims, contact a small claims judgment service such as Alaska Cascade Financial Services.