Small claims court is an arm of the individual state court systems that allows individuals or businesses to sue another individual or business for a relatively small amount at a relatively minimal amount of hassle. Most people who sue a company in small claims court don't hire attorneys, as the documents you need to fill out are fairly simple. You can file a small claims lawsuit against a company fairly easily, if you've been wronged by it.
Visit the small claims court in your area. Small claims court rules vary from state to state. Each county typically has its own small claims court. Small claims courts restrict the amounts of the claims you can make from £1,950 to £3,250 or more. The rules for filing also are different for different states. Stopping by the office can give you exact details.
Fill out the Notice of a Small Claim that will be your official complaint against the company that owes you money. Enter information like your name, address and phone number and the name, address and contact person at the company that you are suing. Enter the amount of money you are suing for and a short description of why you are owed the money.
Talk with a small claims court administrator who will ask you a series of questions about your claim to make sure you are filing it correctly. Pay the nominal fee that it usually costs to file a claim in small claims court. The court administrator then typically assigns your court date. If a court date is not assigned to you on the spot, you will be notified in the mail of the date of your court appearance. Once you have filed your small claim, you have officially sued the company. A notice is then sent to the company that it is being sued and is notified of the court date.
Check your mail regularly between the date you filed your case and the date your case is heard. In many cases, companies like to put their best feet forward when they are being sued. A company may request an extension of the hearing in order to be as prepared as possible. If the defendant requests a later date for the hearing and the request is approved, you are sent a notice of this in the mail.
Gather all the documents you have surrounding the case including any receipts, contracts and photographs that may prove your case. Gather any witnesses that were present when the agreements were made for your case. Bring all these things to small claims court at the date and time your case is heard. Make sure you are on time. If your name is called and you aren't there, the judge automatically assumes you are a no show and dismisses your case.
Tell your side of the case to the judge. Be honest and show all your evidence. Let your evidence speak for itself. The judge will hear from the company that also likely will be present in court. If the company doesn't show up for the small claims trial and it was served with notice of the case, the judge will automatically rule in your favour. If the other side shows up, the judge will listen to all sides of the case and make a ruling based on the pertinent laws of your state.
Mail a notice of payment due to the defendant in the case after you have won the lawsuit. Address the letter to the finance department. State that you are owed money and specify exactly how much you are owed. Include the small claims case number in the letter. Be sure to also go to the small claims court office and obtain a copy of the judgment or another type of notice that indicates a judgment is granted. Send a copy of the finance department letter to the individuals from the company who were present in court that day. Follow up with a phone call to find out when you can expect payment. Allow ample time for the company to follow through.
File a motion to secure the payment you are owed from the company's bank account with the small claims court. Find out from the small claims court what the length of time is that you have to wait before you can request you simply obtain the money you are owed directly from the company's bank. The small claims court will ask you to fill out a bank garnishment form and pay a nominal fee. You need to include the name of the company, its bank and its bank address. If you are a former employee of the company, you can obtain the banking information by getting a copy of a former paycheck; the bank name and address are typically listed on all paychecks. If you were not a former employee, you have to find out where the company banks by asking them.
Contact the small claims court to find out when the company pays its judgment debt. Companies can pay judgments by sending a check to the small claims court and including the case number in the cover letter.