Navigating Small Claims Court

As a business owner, it’s nearly impossible to remain unscathed from conflicts and disputes. You’re bound to run into an issue sometime or another because dealing with issues is a simple fact of business.

Keeping that in mind it’s almost proven that taking a case to small claims court is your best option. Small claims courts are specifically designed to resolve cases quickly and inexpensively, without the need to observe the complex formalities of traditional court proceedings. This prevents you from incurring costly legal fees. If you are considering taking a case to small claims court, here are a few answers to some basic questions about the process.

What types of cases are resolved in small claims court

Small claims courts are real courts, but you can only take your case to a small claims court if the money you’re seeking to collect is below a certain amount, which is known as the court’s jurisdictional limit. These limits are different for each state; however, for Arizona, the limit is $3,500. Additionally, be aware that Arizona does not allow for small claims court cases involving divorce, guardianship, name changes, bankruptcy, or seeking an injunction against another individual.

Where should I file my small claims lawsuit?

If the other party does business or lives in Arizona, the law typically requires you to file your lawsuit in the small claims court district closest to that person’s residence or business headquarters. In some cases, you also may be able to file in the district where a legal agreement was signed or the dispute in question occurred. Check with the local small claims clerk for more detailed information.

How does the small claims court process work?

The process begins when the plaintiff files a statement of claim with the county or district where the case will be held. Court fees will also need to be paid but they’re typically small, ranging from $20 to $200.

Small claims procedures vary by state and district, but in general, the hearings are fairly informal and don’t involve complicated legal procedures or strict rules of evidence. That said, you still need to prepare and present your case before the judge. Be sure to bring all of the documentation needed to help prove your case, such as contracts, invoices, photos of damages, copies of emails, and/or sales receipts. Some states also allow you to call witnesses.

One of the biggest advantages of small claims court is the time it takes for your case to be decided. Unlike traditional civil court, where cases can drag out for months or even years, a small claims judge will typically issue judgment on the spot, once both sides have presented their arguments and evidence.

Do I need an attorney?

Small claims court is designed to be easy to navigate, without the need for an attorney. Of course, if you are going to file a case in small claims court you should definitely call and discuss your strategy with us first and we can advise you about how to proceed.

How do I collect a judgment?

Unfortunately, the court won’t collect your money for you. If you win your case and are awarded a judgment, unless the defendant agrees to pay you or you both agree to a payment plan, you may have to go back to court to collect.

At Truest Law, we can offer you support and guidance on the best ways to collect and ensure you get all the money you are owed.

We’re Here If You Need Us

We can help you decide whether or not to take your particular dispute to small claims court, as well as help you prepare your case. And while you likely won’t need us during the trial, we’re here to support you in whatever way you might require, providing you with the best chance to win your case and collect on your judgment. Contact us today to learn more.