Search thousands of topics on CostHelper.com

BROWSE ALL TOPICS >> appliances babies & children  cars  consumer electronics health & personal care home & garden personal finance  pets  schools small business weddings
CostHelper > Personal Finance  > Legal > Small Claims Court

Small Claims Court Cost


How Much Does Small Claims Court Cost?

 
average costMedium: Fees Typically $20-$50high costHigh: Fees Can Run $220 or More
post E-mail post Post  

Small Claims Court is intended to resolve simple disputes quickly and relatively inexpensively, in a more informal setting than other types of litigation -- and usually without involving lawyers. Also called County Court or Magistrate's Court, Small Claims Courts only hear complaints up to a maximum value that ranges from $2,500-$15,000, depending on state law.

Typical costs:

  • Filing fees average $30-$50, but can run $10-$220 or more depending on location and the amount of money involved in the claim.
  • You may also be required to send the person you're suing formal notice by certified mail or by a law enforcement officer or a process server, which could add another $10-$100 or more. However, if you win your case, you can recover all these court costs.
  • Some states allow lawyers in Small Claims Court but a few prohibit them. Even if lawyers are allowed, having an attorney represent you at an hourly rate of $100-$300 and up quickly totals more than the maximum amount of money awarded in Small Claims Court. Some people who choose to represent themselves first consult with a lawyer about state laws, strategy, tactics and other issues before filing a Small Claims Court complaint; this consultation can run $100-$500 or more depending on the time involved and the complexity of the case. However, the basic idea of small claims court is to resolve disputes without involving lawyers.
Related articles: Property Damage Lawsuit, Car Accident Lawsuit, Dog Bite Lawsuit, Slip and Fall Lawsuit

What should be included:
  • Small Claims Court cases involve money, such as failure to repay a loan, or failure to repair a car or other major appliance properly, or landlord-tenant disputes, debt collection or breach of warranty (when an item doesn't work as it's supposed to). Small Claims Court cannot be used for divorce, bankruptcy, guardianship or criminal cases, or suits against the federal government.
  • It's best to first try to settle the dispute yourself. Often a Small Claims Court judge will want to see written evidence (such as a letter) that you tried to resolve the problem before coming to court. Lawyers.com offers short summaries of the small claims court rules[1] for each state.
  • Prepare your case carefully, so you can present your facts clearly with supporting documentation. The American Bar Association gives a detailed overview[2] of the small claims court process and Nolo Press describes how to present testimony and evidence in Small Claims Court.
  • The person who files the Small Claims Court complaint is the plaintiff; the person being sued is the defendant, and the amount of money awarded by the judge is the judgment. Lawers.com provides definitions[3] of common Small Claims Court terms as well as a checklist[4] for defending a small claims case.
  • If you don't like the judge's decision, many states allow either party to appeal a Small Claims Court ruling, usually within 10-30 days; some states permit jury trials for these appeals. Nolo Press explains how to appeal a Small Claims Court case.
Additional costs:
  • If you win, Small Claims Court does not collect the money for you. You have to do that yourself, and there could be additional filing fees for a lien or to garnish wages[5] .
  • Nolo Press offers an e-guide on how to Settle Your Small Claims Dispute Without Going to Court for $15.95, and the book, Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court, which retails for $29.99.
  • In some states, the defendant has the right to request a transfer to regular civil court, with both sides represented by attorneys.
post E-mail post Post  
CostHelper News


3 Ways to Have the Government Pay You Back for Your Energy Efficient Upgrades
Any renovations or upgrades made to your home this year that included energy-efficient appliances could be eligible for some federal energy tax credits. But it's not just appliances. || Posted December 9 2013


7 Lesser-Known Discounts for the 50+ Crowd
As they age, members of the Baby Boomer generation don't like to admit that they're senior citizens, but they love getting discounts. It's kind of a quandary, because some of the best deals available are reduced prices for older folks. || Posted October 21 2013

‣ All CostHelper Blog Posts


What People Are Paying - Recent Comments


 

Comment On Your Experience With Small Claims Court
 
Subject:  *
Amount Spent:  * total
Comments: 
Purchased:  Year: 
City:  * State:  *
 
Information about you:
Email:  * Email addresses are not displayed.
Name:  This is the name we'll display with your post.
me on this computer
*=required field.
 



External Resources:
  1.  consumer-law.lawyers.com/US-Small-Claims-Court/Small-Claims-Court-In-Your-State.html
  2.  apps.americanbar.org/abastore/products/books/abstracts/2350234_ch5.pdf
  3.  consumer-law.lawyers.com/US-Small-Claims-Court/Small-Claims-Court-Terms.html
  4.  consumer-law.lawyers.com/US-Small-Claims-Court/Defending-A-Small-Claims-Case.html
  5.  www.allbusiness.com/legal/litigation/4134-1.html
More Personal Finance Topics
Check Out All Costs for Personal Finance How Much Does a Traffic Ticket Attorney Cost? How Much Do Funeral Flowers Cost? How Much Do Tax Returns Cost?

Search Thousands of Topics on CostHelper.com



Today's Featured Cost Articles

About CostHelper
CostHelper is based in Silicon Valley and provides consumers with unbiased price information about thousands of goods and services. Our writers are experienced journalists who adhere to our strict editorial ethics policy.

CostHelper Community
A 9-miles ride in ambulance with no medical attention cost 1200 in WA
Paid: 1200.00
This is legal rip-off. In my case, just a 9 miles ride from 1 hospital to the other without any medical attention cost me 1200 out of pocket. How can states attorneys and legislators let this happen everywhere... [more]
-TomN
Ambulance Cost
First tat
Paid: 0.00
I am 17 now and I am looking to get a pair of tribal wings on my upper back. This will be my first tattoo and would really like to have some advice about them... [more]
-Dannyboy
Tattoo Cost
All Propane Dealers are NOT crooks!
Paid: 1.89
In January of 2004, I bought my new 1000 gallon propane tank from Anderson's Propane of Bergman, Arkansas. Delivered about 100 miles from Bergman, installed, with a regulator, for a total of $1,519.66... [more]
-Eric Williams
Propane Tank Cost
ripoff
Paid: 15000.00
Family member charged with 7 felony accounts for a single act decided by the officer who took the report. The police report went to the AP and articles in tons of papers. Blown way out of proportion and one - sided... [more]
-America Lost
Felony Defense Attorney Cost
Stress Test
Paid: 1400.00
Agreed to test only as precautionary and peace of mind. Dr. office called ahead to be sure insurance would cover, in-network, etc.... Bill for procedure: 1600.00 (I owed 500... [more]
-DBR
Stress Test Cost
mold
Paid: 5500.00
Shortly after moving into my "new 2006" mobile home, I became aware of a cracked waterline under the house. I had a plumber repair it. This was 2011. In 2014 January I became very sick..found it was black mold under thd house... [more]
-Mary Solberg
Mobile Home Insurance Cost