Filing a Small Claims Court Case

Written by Steven Matz on . Posted in .

“What are the basic guidelines for filing a case in Small Claims Court?”

Note: This article describes the law in Michigan. Other states have their own rules.

If you have a disagreement with another person, or a company, that involves a money value of no more than $3000, you might think about suing in Small Claims Court. Here are some of the rules, and some of the realities, as well.

Kinds of Cases: Money damages, but not cases of fraud, intentional misconduct (like assault, or slander). No cases where you ask the court to rule on the fairness of someone’s behavior (so-called equitable relief).

Dollar limit: Cases where damages are $3000 or less and can be proven. Remember: in auto minitort claims for repayment of your deductible or collision damage by the driver who caused the collision, the most you can get is $1000.

Where to file the case: This is done in the Small Claims Division of the District Court for the city where the person you are suing lives, or in the city where the breach of agreement or injury happened. There is a filing fee. The Complaint can be served on the Defendant in person or by certified mail (the Clerk of the Court does that).

Court date: You will receive a hearing date that can vary from about two weeks to about two months after the Complaint is served.

Attorneys: No attorneys are allowed to represent the parties.

Transfer of case: If either party wants to ask the Court to transfer the case to the general civil division, the Court will do that. This would happen, for example, if the Defendant wants to protest the suit, and wants to use a lawyer, or if the Plaintiff discovers that the actual financial loss is more than $3000, but less than $25,000.

Appeals: Not allowed, unless the case is heard by a district court magistrate; in that case there is a seven day appeal period

Collecting the money: If the Plaintiff wins a judgment, it is up to the Plaintiff to take further legal steps to try to collect the money. This is done at the Plaintiff’s expense. There is no guarantee that attempts to collect the judgment will be successful. Hiring an attorney to attempt collection is entirely up to the Plaintiff.

Where to get formshttp://courts.mi.gov/ – Small Claims Forms

 

Source: Michiganlegalaid.org

Written By Steven Matz

Steven J. Matz is a founding shareholder of Matz Injury Law. The firm’s concentration is on personal injury litigation, with an emphasis on traumatic brain injury. Mr. Matz earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with high distinction and highest honors in 1974 from the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor degree in 1977 from The George Washington University National Law Center. Mr. Matz lectures and publishes in a number of areas, including ethics, marketing, trial tactics, and head injury. Mr. Matz has served on the Michigan Association for Justice Executive Board and currently serves the Michigan Attorney Discipline Board as a Hearing Panel Chairman and Master. He is also a member of the State Bar Committee for Character and Fitness.
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