What is a small claims court?
- It’s a court in which corporations, associations and partnerships can be sued for up to $5,000 without a lawyer.
- Suits can only be for money, as damages cannot be sued for in a small claims court.
Who can use small claims courts?
- Anyone over the age of 18 can sue in small claims court.
- Anyone under 18 can have their parents or guardians sue for them.
- Corporations, partnerships, associations and assignees cannot sue in a small claims court, but they can be sued.
Where are small claims courts located?
- All city courts have a small claims court.
How do I start a small claims case?
- Fill out an application, found here.
- Be prepared to give a brief written statement.
- Pay a filing fee of $15 or $20, depending on the claim.
- The defendant must be served with notice of the claim.
What is a counterclaim?
- A suit in which the defendant files against the claimant.
- The defendant is required to file his or her counterclaim with the court within five days of receiving notice of the claim, and must pay the court a fee of $5.00 — plus the cost of mailing the counterclaim to the claimant.
- If the counterclaim is not filed within a five-day period, the judge is required to postpone the case if the claimant (now, also a defendant) requests.
Are there any jury trials in small claims courts?
- The claimant cannot demand a trial by jury.
- However, the defendant can demand a trial by jury.
- The defendant is then required to pay jury costs, plus a $50 fee.
What happens if one party does not appear?
- If the claimant does not appear, the case is dismissed.
- If the defendant does not appear, the case can proceed without him or her.
- In the event that one party does not appear, the losing party can request a reopening and retrying of the case.
Can I appeal the case if I lose?
- If the case was lead by a judge and you believe the result was unjust, you can appeal.
- However, if the case was settled between the parties, you cannot appeal.
How can I collect my judgment?
- After winning, contact the losing party and ask for the owed sum.
- If the losing party does not pay, you may need the assistance of a law enforcing agent. Present him with all the evidence from the case, and describe what is owed by the losing party.
How do I prepare for trial?
- Gather evidence to prove your claim or defense.
- Bring witnesses who have testimony important to your case.
- The decision will be mailed to the parties a few days after the hearing.
This information was culled from New York State’s online guide to small claims court. Click here for more information.