disputes can be very frustrating for consumers. The cost of hiring a lawyer is
often greater than the amount in dispute, making obtaining a lawyer to represent
you in a lawsuit unreasonable from a monetary standpoint. What, then, are
consumers to do when they feel they have been wronged? The Small Claims Court is
one place that minor legal disputes can often be resolved with relatively little
time and expense.
What Is a
It is a simple, speedy, and informal method by which an individual appears
before a judge, presents his or her claim, and explains why a business owes
money to him or her. A consumer may sue a business that he or she believes has
caused him or her damage in the amount of $5,000 or less. Although not required
in Small Claims Court, a consumer may be represented by a lawyer if they
wish. Technical rules of evidence do not apply in a small claims proceeding.
to court you should attempt to resolve the dispute on your own. Sending a letter
to the business may be enough to force settlement. Showing the judge that you
gave the business a reasonable chance to resolve the problem may even help your
get into court, be sure you have all your facts straight. Organize all documents
relating to your case (written warranties, canceled checks, receipts, leases,
copies of your written requests for payment, etc.).
If you have
witnesses, tell them about the hearing date far enough in advance so that they
can arrange to attend the hearing. Although witnesses are not necessary, having
them may strengthen your case. One or two witnesses will likely be adequate to
support your case. Be sure your witnesses are prepared so their testimony will
Take time to
think about how you will present your case. Planning before helps to prevent
rambling later. Organization and brevity are important, but you will want to
tell the judge the complete story. Details that you feel may be unimportant may
help the judge to decide the case so tell the whole story.
you feel the need, contact
the Valentine Legal Group before going to court to get some
the amount in dispute is less than $5,000, it may also be helpful to consider
prepaid legal services plan. For
less than $30 a month, you can have access to a nationwide network of attorneys,
and access to unlimited telephone consultations to discuss your matter, get
guidance on how to proceed and, if necessary, representation for court.