Small Claims Matter!

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Have you ever been wronged and had the offender respond to your accusations with, “So sue me!” In many cases, the cost-benefit analysis weighs against such a remedy. However, small claims court is a viable and affordable option for redressing certain wrongs, typically things like money owed and evictions. If you have a claim for $10,000.00 or less, small claims court may be a good option for you. This article explores 4 reasons why small claims court matters.

First, small claims court is affordable. While filing fees for initiating a lawsuit can be several hundred dollars depending on where you file, small claims lawsuits only cost $96 to file! That’s less than 25% of the cost of filing a lawsuit in federal court and less than half of the cost of filing in Superior Court.

Second, small claims court is efficient. Small claims court is guided by its own procedures, many of which are designed to make this the “people’s court” and to dispense with the long, drawn out processes of filing a “real” lawsuit. Cases are typically heard and disposed of within weeks, rather than months or years! This is because there is no need to file any written documents other than the complaint (the document containing your allegations) and there is (usually) no discovery (which typically draws out litigation).

Third, a judgment rendered and docketed from a small claims matter is just as legitimate as a judgment obtained in a District or Superior Court matter. The judgment is docketed and served on the defendant(s). Once the time period for filing an appeal has expired, the judgment is finalized and collections actions may be undertaken. The judgment attaches to any real property of the defendant in the county in which the judgment was docketed.

Fourth, appeals in a small claims case are considered brand new proceedings on appeal. Practically, this means that there is no record that must be considered on appeal. The appealing party truly gets another bite at the apple. The first appeal will be heard by an arbitrator and an appeal of the arbitrator’s ruling will be heard in District Court. Thus, an appealing party can get 2 additional chances in court.

Coastal Legal Counsel makes small claims court an affordable remedy in two ways. First, we offer flat rate legal representation at two price points: claims of $5,000 or less are billed at $500 and claims in excess of $5,000 are billed at $1,000.00. Second, we offer a small claims court consultation for $125. This hour-long consultation is designed to provide you with an overview of the court process, trial preparation, and the collections process. If you are looking for help with your small claims matter, please call Coastal Legal Counsel at (910) 409-6231 to speak with attorney Aaron D. Lindquist about your case.