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How to Sue Someone in Small Claims

Updated April 17, 2017

When being taken advantage of or losing money out of a breached contract, many people often turn to small claims courts to get back what they feel they are due. Strict procedures must be followed when suing someone, and not completely following procedure could result in the dissolution of your case without you getting your money back.

Go to a courthouse in the county where you or the defendant lives. Alternatively, you may go to a courthouse located near where the incident took place. There is a small claims office in every courthouse that will have all the necessary paperwork you need to establish your case and set up a trial date.

Serve the papers to the person being sued. Serving them means that you are making them aware that they are being sued, but you are not allowed to hand them the papers yourself, although in some states the documents can be served by registered mail. Ask the small claims office about your options and who you can find to serve the papers to the defendant. The claims office should already have a list of people who will serve them for a small fee.

Be prepared to thoroughly prove your case when the trial date arrives. All facts, dates, and times should be written down, and any paper documentation and evidence should be already gathered and organised. You will likely not have much time to plead your case to the judge, so make sure all your points and evidence are laid out and easily presentable. Make copies of all your written documentation so that the judge can see each original while you and the defendant can view a copy. Prepare any witnesses who will support your case as well by asking them to join you on the court date to state what they saw.

Collect your money if you win. The court will advise you on how to go about doing this and will set up rules for payment from the defendant once the case is resolved.

Tip

Limits vary from state to state on what constitutes a "small claim." This can range anywhere from £650 to £16,250, so check the rules of your state to find the limits to how much you can sue for.

Things You'll Need

  • Evidence
  • Written documentation
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About the Author

Scarlett Reine has been a freelance writer since 2008. Her work includes gardening and home improvement articles, as well as political projects for an advocacy network. Reine is studying brain psychology at Boise State University.