Thankfully, most of us will never find ourselves tangled up in the types of messy legal disputes that make big headlines. That being said, it is fairly common for disputes to arise between businesses or individuals that, though not big enough to make the news, are certainly too big to shrug off and ignore. Every state has a Small Claims court section to handle such disputes.
Small Claims Court is less formal than traditional court and tends to be quicker, easier, and more affordable to navigate. While we would never suggest someone walk into a traditional lawsuit without good legal representation, there may be situations in which it is perfectly reasonable to go to Small Claims Court without a lawyer.
If you’re dealing with a legal dispute and feel that Small Claims Court could be a good option for you then you’ll want to be informed on all the implications. Consulting with a trusted attorney about the specifics of your situation is a good idea but it will be helpful to know a few of the basics.
1. What counts as “small” is defined on a state-by-state basis
Each state designates a limit for small claims. These amounts range from $2,000 to $25,000, depending on the state. Utah’s limit is $11,000. If you are looking to sue for an amount that exceeds your state’s established limit then any legal course of action would need to be settled outside of Small Claims Court, such as a State District Court.
2. There is a set process for Small Claims
Although Small Claims Court is less involved than traditional court it does still involve a number of steps. These steps will vary from state to state and city to city but the basics are the same. First, you’ll need to figure out the appropriate place to file. In Utah, Small Claims must be filed in the city where the defendant resides and/or where the claim arose. Second, you will need to fill out the appropriate forms and file them at the courthouse of the city with jurisdiction. Third, you’ll want to prepare adequately for your day in court.
3. Preparing for Small Claims Court
Once you’ve properly filed your paperwork and have a court date set then you’ll want to make sure you are ready to state your case. Gather and organize all relevant documents, practice telling your side of the story clearly and concisely but with sufficient detail and, if possible, bring a disinterested third party to speak to your claim (an expert on the type of service in dispute, for example, could benefit you greatly).
Call J. Cutler Law Today
At J. Cutler Law, we offer free consultations for you and your business. We can draft and review demand letters for small claims, help you navigate the paperwork, and consult on any stage of the process. Call us today for a free consultation at (801) 618-4469 or contact us online.