Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's) AND LEGAL TERMS

What is Small Claims Court?

Small Claims Court is often referred to as the People’s Court.  It is an effective and efficient forum to help solve many kinds of disputes.  In addition, the process is easier and simpler than regular court.

How much can I sue for?

The amount you can sue for in Small Claims Court typically ranges from $2,500 to $15,000 depending on the state you file your suit in.

What are the time limits to sue?

Each state has its own Statute of Limitations which determines how long you may wait to file suit.  There are also different time limits for different cases.

What is/are the following terms?

SERVICE OF PROCESS

Service of process is the method of giving the Defendant, the entity being sued, notice of the claim against them. Every court has its own rules as to serving the Defendant. For example, some courts require service by the sheriff. Some allow service by private process servers. While some courts will allow service on the Defendant to be made by mail with a return receipt requested. Although the rules for service vary from court to court, all courts require that the Defendant be given notice of the impending action.

FILING THE CLAIM

Filling your claim with the court depends on the rules of that particular court that has jurisdiction over the Defendant. Some courts allow filing by mail. Some courts have online electronic filing. Some courts allow filing via email. Still, others allow the claim to be filed via fax. We walk you through every step of every part of the process.  

FILING FEES

Filling fees are separate fees that you pay directly to the court. Fees vary depending on the court, the jurisdiction, and the amount you are suing for. Our fee does not include your filing fees.

COMPLAINT

The complaint is a legal document that lays out the claims the Plaintiff has against the Defendant. The detail required for the Complaint and the rules and requirements vary from court to court.

VENUE

The correct location to file the lawsuit.  If filed in the wrong court or location, it may be transferred or dismissed.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

This is the period of time that a lawsuit must be filed and is dependent on the type of matter and other factors.

TRANSFER

The process of transferring the lawsuit to another court or another venue.  The rules for transfer vary from state to state.

STIPULATION

An agreement made by the parties of a lawsuit that is submitted to the judge.

PROCESS SERVER

This is the person that serves the defendant with the complaint.

RELEASE

An agreement to waive certain rights often incorporated into settlement agreements.

PLAINTIFF

This is the party initiating the lawsuit.

MEDIATION

A process where the parties to the lawsuit meet with a third party in an attempt to settle the matter prior to the case being heard by the court.

PREJUDICE

This term applies to dismissals.  A lawsuit dismissed without prejudice can usually be filed at any time.  A lawsuit dismissed with prejudice usually can’t be refiled.

MAGISTRATE

A judge or person appointed by the court to act in the capacity of judge.

JURY TRIAL

Small claims cases are heard by judges and are usually not entitled to jury trials.

JURISDICTION

The court’s authority over the parties and the subject matter of the lawsuit.

DISMISSALS

A case may be dismissed by the Plaintiff or the court for many reasons.  A lawsuit dismissed without prejudice can usually be filed at any time.  A lawsuit dismissed with prejudice usually can’t be refiled.

DEFENDANT

This is the party being sued.

DEFAULT JUDGMENT

A judgment for the Plaintiff entered by the court usually when the Defendant fails to respond or appear.

COUNTERCLAIM

This is when the Defendant sues the Plaintiff for damages related to the lawsuit filed by the Plaintiff.

CONTINUANCE

An order of the court allowing the lawsuit to be heard at a later date.

HEARING

This is your trial or day in court.

CALENDAR

This is the schedule of lawsuits to heard by the court on a particular day.