A small claims court is an unceremonious section of the district court that handles minor disputes. Though a small court has a judge, a defendant or plaintiff doesn't need to have a lawyer. Having a lawyer represent you in a small claims court is optional.
Small claims courts only handle disputes involving small amounts of money. In most cases, small claims courts handle disputes of between five and ten thousand dollars. However, the amount is subject to change depending on the jurisdiction of the small claims court you attend.
Common cases handled by small court claims include but are not limited to:
- Minor damage claims
- Tenant and landlords disputes over rent and deposit
- Minor personal injury claims caused by your neighbor's pet, e.g., a dog bite
A small court allows settling such minor disputes without going through a civil lawsuit. Hence, here are three benefits of using a small claims court for minor monetary disputes.
Save Money on Lawyer Fees
Taking a dispute to civil court can cost you thousands of dollars in lawyer fees. Remember that lawyers usually charge by the hour. Hence, the longer your civil lawsuit takes in court, the more money you have to pay your lawyer.
However, you don't need to hire a lawyer in a small claims court. The informal nature of a small claims court enables even a layman to represent him or herself in a court. Thus, you can save money by representing yourself in a small claims court instead of hiring a lawyer.
Furthermore, it doesn't make sense to hire a lawyer for thousands of dollars if you are claiming a few thousand dollars in the small claim.
One of the main disadvantages of civil court is the time delays. Civil courts are often overwhelmed by the number of cases waiting for a hearing. As a result, filing a small lawsuit in a civil court may take weeks or months before you get your day in court. Furthermore, the proceeding may extend for another couple of months before a judge gives a ruling on the matter. Thus, you may end up waiting for a while to get your settlement.
However, small claims courts handle matters in a timely fashion. On average, when you file a case with a small claims court, you can present the case before a judge within days. Furthermore, small claims hearings rarely have adjournments, so once you get before a judge in a small claims court, you will leave the courtroom with a ruling.
So, taking your dispute to a small claims court can help you save a lot of time.