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7 Common Types of Lawsuits Seen in Small Claims Court

Posted on Jul 8, 2019

7 Common Types of Lawsuits Seen in Small Claims Court

Before you decide to pursue a small claims case, it is important to determine whether the facts of your case fall into the realm small claims court. There do happen to be limitations regarding what kinds of cases can be seen in small claims courtrooms. What are the most common types of small claims lawsuits?  (This list does not include all of the types of lawsuits seen in small claims but some of the most common.) Bad Debt A bad debt is a type of contract case. In order to succeed in small claims court with this type of case, you need to have proof that the debt exists as well as its amount. You will also need evidence of when the payment was due as well proof that the person who owes you money has not paid it (in whole or part). Breach of Contract In this case, one or more terms of a contract (oral, written or implied) has been broken by the defendant.  Breach of Warranty An implied or written warranty that has been extended to you by a merchant, has been breached and, as a result, you suffered a monetary loss.  Failure to Return a Security Deposit This type of contract case takes place commonly between landlords and tenants when a landlord fails to return a security deposit. Evidence is necessary to prove that a deposit was made, that the premises were cleaned and undamaged upon exit and that security deposit funds were not returned. Personal Injury In this type of case, the plaintiff is suing due to intentional or negligent behavior that has caused they suffered personal injury. Professional Malpractice A professional such as a doctor lawyer or other professional has failed to use the skills of other ordinary members of their profession which results in harm toward the plaintiff.  Property Damage Irrational or careless behavior results in damage to the suing party’s personal...

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3 Mistakes to Avoid in Small Claims Court

Posted on Nov 12, 2018

3 Mistakes to Avoid in Small Claims Court

If you have to go to small claims court, you are going with one objective in mind: to win. Although there are steps you can take to increase the chances that you will do just that, there are also some blunders you could make that have the capability of costing you points in the courtroom. Below are some of the most common and damaging mistakes made in small claims court. Failing to Adequately Prepare This is probably the most obvious mistake one can make in small claims court. Failing to take the time to properly prepare for your case can cost you. Information often helps win a case. It is important you have the appropriate information ready before you even file a lawsuit to prevent your case from bouncing. Be sure you have the correct names, dates, addresses, and any other details necessary to support your claim. Assuming the Judge Already Knows About Your Case You know what happened to you and why you are heading to small claims court in the first place in an attempt to have justice served. You also know what it is you need to prove. But you need more than just that. You need to be able to articulate it to the judge in a way that helps him understand the situation so he can make a ruling that supports your position. Rambling on about the details without focus is a good way to turn the judge from you and can create confusion. Deciding Against Using a Lawyer Lawyers help people on a regular basis. There is wisdom in talking with one about the ins and outs of court before you step foot in the courtroom. A lawyer not only can help to represent you but can help you to prep for trial. Failing to consult a lawyer can be a terrible mistake when it comes to winning your court case. Some small claims courts may not allow you to be represented by counsel but you can still speak to one before you file your claim. Do not be rash and jump right into the option of pursuing a case in small claims court without being well prepared...

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Filing and Presenting Your Small Claims Appeal

Posted on Oct 8, 2018

Filing and Presenting Your Small Claims Appeal

If your small claims ruling was not in your favor and you feel the judgement was wrong, you can file a small claims appeal. Below are some tips on how to file and present your appeal. It is important to know that the rules that cover small claims appeals may vary from state to state. Because of this, the first thing you should do is obtain a copy of your state’s small claims appeal rules and familiarize yourself with them. File Promptly All states require appeals to be filed promptly, typically within 10 to 30 days. In some states, you need to file a notice of appeal within 30 days after the judgement has been mailed to you by the court clerk. This means that if the decision was mailed to you, you have less than 30 days to file once you have received the documents. Fees Appeal fees are often higher than the initial filing fee. You may be required to post a cash bond in your state to cover the amount of the judgement, should you lose. Do You Need a Lawyer? You are entitled to have a lawyer represent you in the appeals court, but it may not be cost efficient to hire one considering how much you already have to pay to appeal. Weigh the pros and cons and know that you do not need a lawyer to make a good impression at an appeal. Simply be prepared and respectful and you can make just as impressive a showing at your appeal. Presenting Your Appeal Give careful thought to any improvement your presentation can benefit from. This is sage advice for both sides of the judgement but especially true to the person who lost previously. Ask yourself if the judge decided against you because you presented poorly or perhaps because your statements were not backed up with evidence. If the answer to either is yes, you may need to do a little more work. If you are feeling the pre-case jitters, try to calm yourself and be prepared. You may want to read Represent Yourself in Court: How to Prepare & Try a Winning Case by Paul Bergman. And know that if you do not understand something during the appeal process, you are allowed to politely ask the judge for an...

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How Small Claims Court Judgments Affect Your Credit

Posted on Sep 10, 2018

How Small Claims Court Judgments Affect Your Credit

Some of the things that are included in your credit report are small claims court judgments against you. Information on civil judgments can be collected by credit bureaus and may have significant negative effects on your credit report. The judgments may remain in your credit report for up to seven years after the judgment and not the date of the debt.   Public Information Courts are not generally required to report small claims judgments to credit bureaus. However, civil judgments are considered public documents that can be accessed by individuals or organizations. Credit bureaus usually assemble data on small claims on their own. Unfortunately, debtors must update their records to prove that their debts were paid. Although a paid judgment still has negative effects on your credit report, it is much better than an unpaid one.   Credit Report Damage Small claims judgments have multiple negative effects on credit reports. While this is true, civil judgments can have some of the worst negative effects on your credit file. In addition, the effects of a civil judgment can be more damaging if the lawsuit and judgment was the result of a delinquent credit account. If the debtor does not appear at trial date, the court would enter a default judgment on the debtor’s records. Default judgments have the worst negative effects on your credit because they give the impression that you did not even bother to attend a trial.   Statute of Limitations Statutes of limitations play important roles in small claims actions, or even the avoidance of such claims. Unfortunately, statutes of limitations can be quite long ranging from 12 to 20 years. In some cases, the SOL can even be renewed restarting the clock all over again. It is important to research the statute of limitations for your state, especially when sued for an old debt. If your suit is initiated after the expiry date, you can inform the court and have the case...

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Get Your Security Deposit Back in Small Claims Court

Posted on Aug 13, 2018

Get Your Security Deposit Back in Small Claims Court

Get the money back that is owed to you. You have decided to move and are dealing with what seems to be a landlord from you-know-where, who evidently has no intentions of returning your security deposit. He claims that he is entitled to keep the money to repair damages you did to the property, although you know you left the place in no worse condition than it was when you found it (and maybe even improved it somewhat out of your own pocket). What do you do now? Getting Your Deposit Back with Small Claims Court Security deposit disputes are one of the most common issues in small claims court. To file a claim, you need to formally file your complaint with the court. States do issue a statute of limitations, or a time limit, so it is important that you check with your state to determine how long you have to file. If you are in the same state your former landlord and property you rented, you can file in the district closest to your landlord’s home or in the court closest to the property you rented. Some states may have different filing rules so you may want to contact a local small claims clerk for more details. You also need to prepare for your side of the case. You should write down why you are suing the landlord. It can be a small paragraph, explaining to the judge your case while telling him your side of the story. It will do you well to investigate the local law of security deposits so you can determine what you are entitled to and so you can explain what your landlord did wrong. Be sure to include the legal name and a recent address for the landlord. Once you turn everything in, you will receive a trial date and case number. The other party will also receive a notice from the court or mail, or you can have the papers served by a process server for an extra fee. When it is time to step into court, be sure you have as much evidence as possible to back up what you say to the judge. Explain why you are entitled to receive your deposit back and share any documents you have to solidify your side, to increase your chances of receiving your monies due to...

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Taking a Contractor to Small Claims Court

Posted on Jul 11, 2018

Taking a Contractor to Small Claims Court

What do you do when a home improvement job doesn’t go as planned? Sometimes things do not go as planned. Although most contractors do what they have to in order to satisfy their clients, occasionally you may run into a stubborn contractor who refuses to budge. If you have a dispute with a home contractor, small claims court can be beneficial to you. So how exactly can you recover your money from a difficult contractor? Negotiate First Disputes with home contractors are not uncommon. Sometimes the wrong materials will be used by the contractor or perhaps they fail to complete the project entirely or properly. If you run into these circumstances, you need to first make an effort to negotiate with the contractor outside of court. Have a conversation about the issue. There may have been a misunderstanding that can be resolved outside of court. Another option may be to write a letter to the contractor, which may be taken a little more seriously than a verbal complaint – especially if you make mention of “legal rights” in the event that a resolution cannot be worked out. Taking Your Contractor to Small Claims Court If the above approaches fail, you may need to move forward in court to get the contractor’s attention. Keep in mind that small claims court often has limited jurisdiction, meaning some judges are limited in the ways they can help you. Some courts have a monetary limit. For example, some small claims courts in the state of Indiana cannot help you if you are suing for an amount over $3,000, while other courts in the state (such as Marion County) will allow as much as a $6,000 settlement. Small claims courts also only award money damages. That means that the judge cannot order your contractor to fix the problem he created or finish work on your house. When you are ready to file, contact the clerk of the court to gather and obtain the required paperwork. You will also need documentation to show you were harmed in the business relationship as well as any payments made, work done (including photos), and agreements (whether verbal or written). It typically costs around $50 to file, although there may be additional fees for collection if your contractor loses the case yet fails to pay. Small claims court is usually a less expensive avenue than civil court when it comes to resolving issues with a home contractor. This may make it a good option for you if your claim total falls below the allotted amount in your...

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