We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

How do I File a Small Claims Lawsuit?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGEEK is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGEEK, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Small claims lawsuits handle civil cases with a relatively low monetary issue at stake. It is important to note that not all jurisdictions have a small claims court, and rules and regulations of this type of lawsuit vary widely between regions. In order to file a small claims suit, it is vitally important to first understand the applicable laws and requirements of the jurisdiction.

A small claims lawsuit typically involves a disagreement over money or property. Some common types of suit include landlord/tenant disputes, collection of money owed, or distribution of assets. It is important to remember that in most jurisdictions, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, meaning that it may be wise to have clear, admissible proof of wrongdoing before filing a small claims lawsuit.

There are several ways to get information on filing a small claims lawsuit in a particular district. Some non-profit organizations offer legal books for each region that can help guide a plaintiff or defendant through the lawsuit process. Try visiting the website of the court or speaking with a court clerk to determine what documents and actions are necessary to filing suit. Some people obtain legal counsel, but many choose to represent themselves in small claims court as the damages awarded are often low and the cost of an attorney relatively high.

Although the rules of each jurisdiction may vary, there are some general things necessary to file a small claims lawsuit. The plaintiff must usually fill out court-issued paperwork in full and return it to the court, paying a filing fee. Information required on the forms includes the nature of the claim, the amount in dispute, and the address or contact information for both plaintiff and defendant. If the court accepts the suit, it will issue a summons to the defendant, who may choose to contest or not. In some cases, not contesting within a certain time period allows the plaintiff to ask for a summary judgment without a trial.

If the charge is contested by the defendant, a court date is set when both sides may bring evidence and argument. Each party may be asked to make an oral statement and present any pertinent evidence. Admissible evidence may include written documents such as contracts, agreements and receipts or third party witness statements. Keeping scrupulous records and insisting on written and notarized agreements can be helpful in the event of a small claims lawsuit.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for WiseGEEK. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.

Discussion Comments

Jessica Ellis

Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
Read more
WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGEEK, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.