What is a Small Claims Plaintiff?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 June 2019
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A small claims plaintiff is the complaining party in a civil lawsuit which is subject to a limited claim. Anyone who is a legal adult and mentally competent can generally bring a lawsuit in this capacity. It is usually necessary for this individual to pay to have her dispute heard in small claims court, where she must argue on her own behalf.

Lawsuits can be lengthy, complicated, and expensive. Small claims plaintiffs are individuals who seek a legal solution to a dispute with a simplified approach. Cases lodged by these individuals are heard in small claims courts. These are special courts designed to solve disputes quickly and inexpensively.

The proceedings in a small claims court are informal, which eliminates many of the procedures that are often required in larger lawsuits. For example, a small claims plaintiff must present her own arguments because she is not allowed to be represented by legal counsel. She is generally allowed to present witnesses and offer supporting evidence, such as documents and photographs. If the judge rules in favor of the defendant, she usually does not have the right to appeal.

Likewise, a small claims plaintiff does not have to face the opposition of a legal professional. Dissenting arguments will be made by the defendant who also has the same opportunities to present evidence against the plaintiff. Furthermore, the small claims plaintiff may be countersued by the defendant.


A small claims plaintiff is generally required to pay for the opportunity to have her matter heard in court. This amount is generally referred to as a filing fee. The sum that she asks to be awarded often determines the amount of the filing fee she must first pay.

There is usually a limit on the amount of money a small claims plaintiff can seek to recover. This amount can be affected by several factors. To begin with, the maximum amount can be affected by the jurisdiction in which the case is being heard.

Also, certain small claims plaintiffs are restricted to lower maximum awards than others. A corporation, for instance, that is in the role of a small claims plaintiff may not seek to recover as much as an individual in the same capacity. The party that is standing as the defendant may also have an effect on the limit. Small claims plaintiffs may not be able to sue government agencies, for example, for the same amounts that they can seek from other individuals.



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