The Court Process
A small claims case is a legal action filed in county court to settle minor legal disputes among parties where, as of January 1, 2020, the dollar amount involved is $8,000 or less, excluding costs, interest, and attorneys’ fees. Forms that have been approved for statewide use are located within the Florida Small Claims Rules. The clerk of court may also be able to provide you with copies of appropriate forms.
A small claims action begins by filing a Statement of Claim. Small claim cases should be filed with the clerk in the appropriate county. Filing fees for small claims actions are established in the Florida Statutes and local county ordinances, and are subject to change by legislative action. The clerk of court may be able to provide information on filing fees.
After filing, each person or business being sued must be served with a summons/notice to appear in court on a date and time scheduled when the initial claim was filed. A copy of the Statement of Claim should be attached as provided in the Florida Small Claims Rules. Additional fees are required for service of process on the parties being sued. The court may schedule an initial pretrial conference and also order the parties to mediation to resolve problems. Defendants may file counterclaims, set-offs, or third party complaints as provided in the Florida Small Claims Rules. Practice and procedure may vary from county to county. The clerk of court in the county where the action is filed should be contacted for local practices and procedures.
The court cannot collect money damages for you. You may wish to consult with an attorney for advice on how to collect a judgment.
These videos will soon be available as an alternative to the text descriptions above. The videos attempt to provide information on common issues that self-represented people have in small claims cases. Please note that these videos are not legal advice, and cannot be relied upon as such. If you have questions about this video or about the small claims case process that are not answered by these videos, please consult an attorney.
Rule 7.060(a) of the Florida Small Claims Rules states:
Right to Venue. The law gives the person or company who has sued you the right to file suit in any one of several places as listed below. However, if you have been sued in any place other than one of these places, you, as the defendant, have the right to request that the case be moved to a proper location or venue. A proper location or venue may be one of the following:
1. Where the contract was entered into.
2. If the suit is on an unsecured promissory note, where the note is signed or where the maker resides.
3. If the suit is to recover property or to foreclose a lien, where the property is located.
4. Where the event giving rise to the suit occurred.
5. Where any one or more of the defendants sued reside.
6. Any location agreed to in a contract.
7. In an action for money due, if there is no agreement as to where suit may be filed, where payment is to be made.
If you, as the defendant, believe the plaintiff has not sued in one of these correct places, you must appear on your court date and orally request a transfer or you must file a written request for transfer in affidavit form (sworn to under oath) within the court 7 days prior to your first court date and send a copy to the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney, if any.
The Small Claims Case Process (coming soon)
Forms Relating to a Small Claims Action
The forms that may be required for a small claims case may vary from county to county. For the most accurate information regarding the forms necessary in your county, please contact your county self-help or small claims office.
The following is a list of additional resources that may be helpful in self-help cases.
April 11, 2016 by RAM Law
As a general rule, municipalities in New Jersey have long held what is known as sovereign immunity, meaning they cannot be sued for personal injury. This immunity covers cities, towns, counties, school districts and the state of New Jersey. There are, however, specific exceptions to this broad grant of immunity, as set forth in the New Jersey Tort Claims Act (NJTCA).
The NJTCA mandates that anyone with a potential claim or lawsuit against a city, county, school district or the state of New Jersey provide notice within 90 days of the date of an injury or event giving rise to the claim. The specific municipality may have its own form governing notice of injury, so it’s important that you check. The notice that you provide, though, must give certain basic information, including:
- Your name and address
- The date, time and location of the accident or event
- What happened to cause your injuries
- A general description of the nature of your injuries
- The name of the public entity, as well as any employees, who were involved
Once you have submitted the notice, the municipality generally has six months to review your potential claim. You cannot file legal action until that six month period is over. There are some claims not covered, including lawsuits alleging discrimination under state law, or lawsuits covered by the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act.
The NJTCA protects not only municipalities, but their employees, with a few limited exceptions. If the injury is caused during the exercise of the employee’s duties, a lawsuit cannot be filed, unless:
- The employee acted in complete disregard for the safety of others
- The actions of the employee were outside the scope of his or her duties
- The actions of the employee were criminal in nature
Contact Our Office
Attorneys Ed Rebenack, Craig Aronow and Jay Mascolo all have more than 15 years of experience successfully representing personal injury victims. To set up an appointment, contact us online or call our offices, in New Brunswick at 732-247-3600 or in Somerville at 908-448-2560. Your first consultation is without cost or obligation.
Fill out a simple, secure small claims questionnaire
Fast Legal Filing’s paralegal will review, research and prepare your case.
Once your Small Claims is drafted, we will send you the doucments with instrcutions.
Small Claims Court New Jersey
New Jersey Small Claims Statute of Limitation. вЂ“ Minimum Amount For Small Claims Court New Jersey
In Small Claims Court of New Jersey, small Claims is one of three sections of the Superior Courts Special Civil Part. The other two sections are Landlord Tenant and regular Special Civil Part. Small Claims handles cases in which the demand is not more than $3,000. If the amount of money you are trying to recover is more than $3,000, but less than $15,000, your case should be filed in the regular Special Civil Part. Cases in which damages are more than $15,000 must be filed in the Law Division of the Superior Court.
Small Claims Court New Jersey Fees
In the State of New Jersey, Small Claims Filing offers complete small claims services, special civil services and serving services. Court fee is $42.
How much does it cost to go to small claims court in New Jersey
There is a $30 filing fee for a case asking for up to $1500. To claim over $1500, and up to $5,000, there is a filing fee of $50. If your claim is above $5,000, the filing fee is $75. If you file more than 12 cases in a year, subsequent cases will cost $100.
New Jersey Small Claims Form
You can get small claims form for New Jersey in $15 against one defendant. If you would like to file small claims in online court of New Jersey, you can file your small claims by hiring small claims attorney and file a state of claims. You can serve the complaint by mail using: Certified, Restricted Delivery/Return Receipt Requested. If the defendant is a corporation, the statutory agent must be served.
Customer’s satisfaction is our first priority
Small claims courts, also called People’s Court, is a court of limited jurisdiction. Limited jurisdiction means only certain matters may be filed and heard by the small claims court. There is also a maximum claim amount limitation. Small claims courts offer a quick, informal and inexpensive way of resolving many types of disputes you may have with particular individuals or companies. Download state specific small claims forms.
- District of Columbia
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Small Claims Court FAQ Small Court Claim
Who hears the claims in small claims court? In small claims court, the trial is an informal hearing before a judge. There is no jury and the plaintiff presents his or her evidence and witnesses. The defendant is also responsible for presenting his or her witnesses. After hearing both sides of the dispute, the judge will render a verdict based on the law and the facts presented.
Who may file a claim in small claims court? An individual, partnership or corporation (or LLC) may file a claim against another individual(s), partnership or corporation (LLC) in small claims court, if jurisdiction exists to hear the claim, if the amount of the claim does not exceed the statutory limits.
What must I do before I file a claim? Before you file a claim, get the facts straight so you can complete the forms correctly and answer any questions court personnel may need to know. Be sure to obtain the correct legal name of the defendant, correct address and place/address of employment. If the defendant is a corporation or LLC you would use the legal corporate or LLC name as the defendant.
How do I file a claim? The plaintiff or the plaintiff’s attorney should go to the small claims division of the district court in the particular county where the person or business to be sued has an office or is domiciled and file a Statement of Claim Form. The plaintiff is responsible for furnishing the court with the correct and complete address of the defendant. The clerk will assign the plaintiff a case number and this number must be used whenever contacting the court concerning the particular case. A filing fee is required at the time the claim is filed. If the plaintiff cannot afford to prepay the fee at the time of the filing, he or she can submit an Affidavit of Substantial Hardship and request that the judge delay the payment.
Who serves the defendant with summons or process and how is the defendant served? The clerk of the court will issue a summons ordering the defendant to appear in court. The summons and the complaint must be served on the defendant. The summons and the complaint may be served by certified or registered mail. If the court provides this service, there may be an additional fee. If the defendant cannot be served using these methods, the precinct constable or any registered private process server will serve the summons and complaint for a fee.
How are hearings scheduled? The clerk of the court will provide you with the procedure to set the case for trial or hearing at the time you file your claim.
May I subpoena witnesses? If witnesses are required, but unwilling to attend the hearing unless they are subpoenaed, you may obtain a subpoena issued by the court clerk for service on the witness. The subpoena is an order for the witness to appear at the hearing to testify. Some employer may require that an employee be subpoenaed in order to be excused from work.
What are the trial procedures? The trial procedure is generally more informal than other courts. The case will usually be called in open court and you will respond that you are present and ready to proceed. You will then be advised when to present your claim. Be prepared to present your claim in your own words. Be prepared to question witnesses if witnesses are needed.
What happens if the defendant does not appear at trial? If the defendant does not appear at trial, a default judgment will be entered in the plaintiff’s favor for the amount of the claim or other relief. After judgment is obtained and the appeal time has expired, the plaintiff may seek to collect the judgment by acceptable means of collection.
What are the common forms used in small claims court? Common forms used in small claims court are:
- Claim Statement/Complaint
- Return of Summons
- Abstract of Judgment
Instant Access to State, County and Municipal Records
How do New Jersey Courts work?
The Supreme Court acts as the highest legal authority in the state of New Jersey. This gives it the power to oversee and review any decision made by the Court of Appeals, due to the state’s tier system. The Supreme Court may weigh in on any legal questions, conflicts, and precedents. However, the Court of Appeals has powers of its own in New Jersey, as it is able to carry out a similar function over the lower courts, as long as one party appeals a decision. These lesser courts are made up of the 12 trial or superior courts across New Jersey’s 21 counties. Other tiers of court include the Appellate Division, Local Courts, Tax Court, and Municipal Courts.
Civil Cases and Small Claims
Civil cases and small claims cases in New Jersey are structured very differently, from the type of case heard to the amount of money claimed. Civil courts in New Jersey deal with cases in which the petitioner is seeking at least $175,000. There are nearly 175,000 of these claims each and every year across the state. However, non-monetary cases can also be heard within civil courts, including disputes over name changes, property, and restraining orders. On the other hand, the small claims courts in New Jersey deal with cases in which the claimant is looking for $3,000 or under, or $5,000 for security deposit claims. Nearly 100,000 of these claims cases are filed annually across New Jersey. Some examples of small claims cases may include disputes over deposits, warranties, repairs, loans, damages, and more. The small claims court also has the power to order a defendant into paying a fee.
Appeals and court limits
The appeals processes and the court limits also differ across small claims courts and civil courts in New Jersey. There is a claim filing fee of between $30 and $100 for small claims cases in the state, after which point each part is given 30-70 days to complete their respective case. On the other hand, civil court charges a filing fee of between $180 and $320 per claim, after which each party is given up to 120 days to complete their case. Pretrial discovery is allowed in civil courts, but not in any small claims cases. Either party can also appeal a decision made in civil court, whereas only the defendant or sued party may appeal a decision in the small claims court. A person may hire a lawyer to represent them and file papers on their behalf in civil courts in New Jersey, but neither are allowed in small claims courts.
Why are court records public?
The New Jersey Open Public Records Act was introduced in 1995, with the latest amendments coming in 2002. This Act was brought in to ensure that all state residents had the fundamental right to access any public record they please. Any record held by the local or state government can be accessed and copied, as long as another law does not prohibit it. This promotes a sense of transparency between the public and their government, as well as safeguarding government accountability.
To access records:
R.J. Hughes Justice Complex
Supreme Court Clerk’s Office
P.O. Box 970
Trenton, NJ 08625-0970
Monday – Friday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
- Arrests & Warrants
- Criminal Records
- Driving Violations
- Police Records
- Sheriff Records
- Inmate Records
- Felonies & Misdemeanors
- Probation Records
- Parole Records
- Tax & Property Liens
- Civil Judgements
- Marriages & Divorces
- Birth Records
- Death Records
- Property Records
- Personal Assets
- Business Ownership
- Professional Licenses
- Political Contributions
- Unclaimed State Funds
- Relatives & Associates
- Address Registrations
- Affiliated Phone Numbers
- Affiliated Email Addresses
Results are based upon available information from state, county and municipal databases, and may not include some or all of the above details.
If you loaned someone money and they refuse to pay, it’s only natural to think, “Can I sue someone who owes me money?” The answer is, yes, you can.
That’s why the small claims court exists. It is a specific type of court that hears cases between two parties without the need to have expensive, drawn-out lawsuits. They come in handy to help people having a hard time collecting money owed to them.
However, before you pull out the heavy artillery, try employing other debt collection strategies to see if they’ll pay up. If all tactics fail, then it’s time to use the judicial system. Here’s how to sue someone who owes you money.
File a Complaint with Your County
The first thing you need to be aware of is that there’s a minimum threshold for the amount of money you can sue for. So, if you loaned someone money for gas and they refuse to pay, that amount doesn’t meet the minimum threshold for filing a suit with the small claims court.
Find out what the limit is for your state to determine if you can go to court over the matter. To begin the small claims process, you need to file a complaint with your county. Get the forms and all the necessary paperwork and fill them out yourself.
You’ll have to pay a small fee to facilitate the process and for a court officer to serve summons to the debtor. A court hearing date will be set for the case to be heard.
Can You Sue Someone Who Has Filed Chapter 7
Unfortunately, when the person who owes you money files a bankruptcy case, the stay automatic stay goes into effect. This is a court order that stops creditors attempting to collect a debt from them. This means that any court proceedings you have going on to get them to pay you what they owe automatically stops, until the determination of the bankruptcy case.
Prepare Your Case: Do You Need a Lawyer for Small Claims Court
While the small claims process is an easy one, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t prepare carefully. The process is designed to be easy for anyone, especially if you want to avoid paying attorney fees.
If you’re not too confident about the process, it’s always advisable to bring a lawyer on board to help you get a favorable outcome. They’ll help you file the paperwork and receive a judgment in a short time. Most of the time attorney fees are kept quite low.
Preparing your case involves gathering all documentary evidence to prove that:
- You worked or delivered the products/services that the debtor in question ordered; or
- You loaned someone a given amount of money under the pretext that they were supposed to pay you back within a specific period
- The customer or person in question didn’t pay you what they owe
Also, you will need to show that you attempted to collect this money using all other avenues before resorting to a legal process in the small claims court. You need to provide proof of your debt-collection attempts.
Present Your Case
Once you’ve gathered all the supporting documents for your case, you’ll need to show up to court on the appointed hearing date. Present your case showing any agreements that were in place or acknowledgments from the debtor that they were supposed to pay you for products/services received.
Having invoices and sales receipts that were signed by them can go a long way in solidifying your case against them. This also applies if you loaned someone money. You need documents proving that there was an agreement in place that the amount was a loan they failed to pay back.
Small claims court cases usually last on average 10 to 15 minutes. Tell your story and answer any questions the judge asks.
With proper documentation, the ruling will usually be in your favor unless there’s some compelling reason why the debtor shouldn’t have to pay you what they owe. A favorable judgment means that the court orders the debtor to pay you the amount that’s due.
Collecting on a Judgment
Success in small claims court doesn’t equate to getting a favorable judgment. It means being able to collect the money that the debtor owes. It’s not automatic that the debtor will pay.
To collect on a judgment, you may have to get a lien on the person’s property through the court. Alternatively, a lien to order a wage garnishment can be issued. The process is fairly straightforward, but it’s easier to get a lawyer to do it for you.
Alternative to Small Claims Court: Mediation
In mediation, the settlement process is run by a mediator who brings both parties to the table to clear up the dispute and reach an amicable resolution. While the process is voluntary, the court can also mandate it.
The attorneys for each party may or may not be present during the process. However, difficult mediations necessitate respective attorneys to be present to make sure their clients aren’t short-changed at the end of the mediation proceedings.
The mediator goes back and forth between each party asking questions to clarify any areas of misunderstanding with regards to the terms of the debt. They then try to find points of agreement that are favorable to both parties.
Mediation, however, is non-binding. So, it might not be the most effective way to get money from someone who’s refusing to pay.
If you’re thinking of going the small claims court route, you should find some time and sit in on a hearing to get a feel of it. That way, you’ll know what to expect and prepare accordingly. Consult with an attorney for more information.
You can search for attorneys in our lawyer directory; or, if you have other legal questions, you can also chat online with a Laws101.com attorney where you’ll be instantly connected to a lawyer who can give you legal guidance on your specific case or question.
Created byВ FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last updated January 23, 2017
YouвЂ™ve tried everything from reasoning with your customer to sending a demand letter, clearly stating the debt they owe and the payment schedule. Yet despite your most noble attempts at legally collecting on a past-due account, your efforts have fallen short and the customer still hasnвЂ™t paid. Small businesses often survive on a very tight budget and failing to receive promised revenue on an account can have a negative impact on your future. If you are thinking of collecting on a business debt in small claims court, there are several procedures you will want to follow both leading up to your court date and collecting on the judgment after you win.
Small Claims Filing Procedures
First, letвЂ™s understand what small claims court is and isnвЂ™t. Small claims court involves civil disputes surrounding smaller amounts of money. They are places to receive some legal recourse on your outstanding debt, but only up to a certain monetary limit. They are not places where you will expect to receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid account fees and costs from your delinquent customer. Instead, each court has its own individual limit by state. For instance, in California you may file in a claim in their small claims court system assuming it doesnвЂ™t go over $10,000 for individuals and sole proprietors and $5,000 for any corporation or other entity.
If your claim involves anything over that amount, you will have to file in the superior court. Remember, you will want to file the paperwork initiating the small claims action only after youвЂ™ve exhausted other collection attempts such as sending the demand letter.
I Run a Business. Do I Also Have to Appear in Court?
Now that youвЂ™ve filed the lawsuit, the next question is whether or not you will personally appear in court. We know how busy you are with running your business, revising your goals and strategy for success, and ensuring employee development. Trying to cram a day in court into your schedule can cost you money. Each state is different and many will allow different representatives to appear in court on behalf of the plaintiff. Some states allow attorneys to appear, others let bill collectors represent you, while still others donвЂ™t allow either and may require you or one of your employees to appear. Always check with a lawyer first or contact the small claims court to learn more.
Collecting on a Small Claims Judgment
LetвЂ™s assume youвЂ™ve followed all the correct procedures, including filing the right paperwork, properly serving the debtor with notice of your small claims action, you won. Congratulations, but now you must deal with collecting from the person or entity that failed to pay you in the first place. If you are lucky, the person will come to court ready to pay immediately. If not, you may need a writ of execution. This is a court order directing local law enforcement to help you collect on your judgment by asking to garnish the debtorвЂ™s wages or even attach the debtorвЂ™s bank account. Learn more about these procedures from a local attorney.
Collecting on a Debt in Small Claims Court: Related Resources
- Collection of Accounts Checklist
- Collecting Debts Owed by a Bankrupt Customer
- Understanding a Mechanics Lien
Find Out How to Collect in Small Claims Court
Nothing can be more frustrating that having to go to court to collect on delinquent account. It may take time and effort away from what matters most: running your small business. But the good news is that you may not have to appear at all, depending on the rules in your state. Consider speaking with a collections lawyer in your area to learn more about local small claims filing procedures and more.
Created byВ FindLaw’s team of legal writers and editors | Last updated March 05, 2018
States have time limits for would-be plaintiffs seeking to file a civil lawsuit, which are called “statutes of limitations.” These time limits help preserve the integrity of evidence, whether it’s physical evidence or witness testimony, while preventing the indefinite threat of lawsuits. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations for personal injuries is two years, while injury to personal property has a six-year statute of limitations.
Sometimes it’s not possible until much later to know that an injury has occurred or to discover what caused an injury. In such cases — for instance, when environmental pollution has caused terminal illness decades after exposure — the “discovery rule” allows suits to be filed within a certain amount of time after the injury (or its cause) has been discovered.
Also, the civil statute of limitation may be paused (“tolled”) if the plaintiff was a minor or mentally incompetent at the time of the injury. Parties may agree by contract to shorten the statute of limitations, which may occur with a simple “click” of an online user agreement.
As you can see, there are a number of factors that may determine the statute of limitations for a given civil action. It can get confusing, so it’s usually a good idea to work with an attorney when filing a lawsuit. Most injury lawyers will work on a contingency basis, which means you won’t have to pay until you collect for your injuries.
To learn more about New Jersey’s civil statute of limitations laws, reference the following chart. See Time Limit Considerations in Medical Malpractice Calims for related information.
|Libel/Slander||1 yr. В§2A:14-3|
|Fraud||6 yrs. В§2A:14-1|
|Injury to Personal Property||6 yrs. В§2A:14-1|
|Professional Malpractice||2 yrs. В§2A:14-2|
|Trespass||6 yrs. В§2A:14-1|
|Collection of Rents||16 yrs. В§2A:14-4|
|Contracts||Written: 6 yrs. В§2A:14-1; Oral: 6 yrs. В§2A:14-1|
|Collection of Debt on Account||6 yrs. В§2A:14-1|
|Judgments||20 yrs. from court of record В§2A:14-5|
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
- New Jersey Law
- Official State Codes – Links to the official online statutes (laws) in all 50 states and DC.
New Jersey Civil Statute of Limitations Laws: Related Resources
- Lawsuits: A Practical Guide
- Time Limits to Bring a Case: The Statute of Limitations
- New Jersey Car Accident Settlement Process and Timeline
Get Help Understanding New Jersey Civil Statute of Limitations Laws
You’ve been harmed and believe you are entitled to compensation for your injuries. Let a legal expert guide the way for you. A great first step in making sure you are meeting New Jersey’s filing deadline for civil suits is to speak with a litigation attorney in New Jersey.