State laws require that every county court in the state have a division known as Small Claims Court. Small claims are civil suits that are designed for people to be able to represent themselves in court. The procedures are simple enough that an individual can file and handle his or her own claim in court. It is a simple, speedy and informal process. You file a small claim with the court clerk. Before filing a lawsuit in justice court, it is always recommended you attempt to resolve your problems with the other party. Small Claims Court cases, sometimes known as Conciliation Court or The Court of Common Pleas, are held in justice court locations, typically the Small Claims Division of District Court in each county. There are no juries, no appeals and no attorneys allowed in small claim cases. It has simplified rules and can go much faster than other types of cases. The person bringing the claim is the plaintiff. The person being sued is the defendant. In general, the claim must be filed in the district court of the county in which the defendant(s) reside. Once the small claims case is filed and served upon the defendant, the defendant has 30 days to file and answer with the courts. If you seek more than the jurisdictional limit, the claim is no longer “simple” and you should consult an attorney. This amount does not include filing costs, interest, and attorneys’ fees. The filing fees, which vary by state and amounts sought, are due at the time you file the affidavit.
States and their Small Claims Court Thresholds
New Hampshire $7,500
New Jersey $3,000
New Mexico $10,000
New York State $3,000
New York City $5,000
North Carolina $10,000
North Dakota $15,000
Rhode Island $5,000
South Carolina $7,500
South Dakota $12,000
West Virginia $10,000
Wisconsin $5,000 – $10,000
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