How to file a small claims lawsuit in pennsylvania

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Private disputes that do not involve large amounts of money can be taken to the small claims court. Small claims are for simple cases that don’t involve large amounts of money or complicated issues. Every court has its own way of submitting small claims that can be complicated. Small claims court is often used to collect a bad debt. It’s relatively simple to present evidence demonstrating that the debt was owed but not paid. Once a creditor receives the judgment, the creditor can use collection techniques to collect the debt.
Sometimes you need a demand letter prior to filing small claims any some courts.

How to file a small claims lawsuit in pennsylvania

How To A File Small Claim in Pennsylvania Court.

If you want to file a small claim in court, you will have to follow a couple of steps. Filing a small claim in court can be time-consuming. Every county court has its own way of filing a small claim. A person can file a complaint in Pennsylvania small claim courts if the dispute is lesser than $10,000 against a person.

Prepare the story of the event:

The first step in the small claims process is to define the story of the event. You must have to have a valid reason for suing. In a small claims case, the story of the event is usually described as a reason for suing. The court will ask you the reason for suing, and you must have to describe it well.

Chose the right small claims Pennsylvania court:

Almost every county has its own small claims court. If you are a residence of Pennsylvania, then you must have to choose the right small claims court to file your case. If you will try to submit your case to another court, they will not accept your case and will return your small claims papers.

Send a demand letter:

Some small claims courts ask you to request money from the defendant and try to resolve the case out of the court. In that case, you must have to send a demand letter prior to file your small claims and wait for the defendant’s reply.

Prepare Pennsylvania small claims form:

As stated before, every county court has its own small claims forms. You can download the small claims forms from the website of the county court. If you would like to file your small claims online in Pennsylvania court without any delay, you may file your case now. The paralegal of Fast Legal Filing will research and prepare your small claims case for Pennsylvania court and will send you all the instructions.

Submit Small Claims Forms in Pennsylvania Court:

Once you get your all papers and small claims form prepared. The next step is to submit those papers to the Pennsylvania courthouse.
There are two ways to submit the papers in the small claims court of Pennsylvania.

1) Submit the papers by hand.

If you are living in the same county where you are submitting the small claims forms then you should take the documents and submit them by hand. It is the fastest way to get the trial date. The court clerk will stamp your document and give you the trail date.

2) Submit the documents by certified mail:

If you are submitting the case in a court that is not nearby you, then you have to send the document as a certified mail with the court fee. As the Pennsylvania court receives the small claims documents, the court clerk will stamp the document and assign the trial date, and mail it back to you.

Serve the defendant:

Once you get the trial date, the next step is to serve the documents to the defendant. There are two ways to serve the defendant.

1) Serve using Certified Mail.

The first way is you ask Pennsylvania court to serve using the court fee you have submitted. The court will use the fee and send the documents to the defendant via Certified Mail.

2) Private Process Server.

You can choose a private processing server. Choosing a third part private processing server costs you between $95-$225 extra. But there are 90% chances that your documents are served by the Sherrif.

Attend the trial date:

On the trial date, you must have to read all the instructions given by Pennsylvania court house. You have to arrive in the Pennsylvania court 1 hour before your hearing. Collect all the documents like proof of the contract, signed agreement, receipts, etc. and take them to court.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of small claims cases I can take to Pennsylvania court.

  • You can file small claims for things like:
  • A faulty product you received.
  • Someone provided you poor services
  • Being owed a refund
  • Any disputes with your landlord – for example, if they haven’t done minor repairs
  • Being owed money for work you’ve done.
  • Accidents when you’ve been injured – for example, a car accident or your call is totaled.

How Fast Legal Filing help us in filing a small claims in Pennsylvania court?
Fast Legal Filing help people make their small claims forms for Pennsylvania court in a proper way. We research the case, then we find the right court and follow the guidelines of every small claims court.
Our paralegal staff work on your individual case and ensures that everything you need is perfectly drafted.

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Everyone knows the frustration of being in an accident or getting injured on a sidewalk that is uneven. But if you do not have a lawyer or decide to go a different route, what options do you have? Depending on the severity of what happened, you could take the issue to Small Claims Court.

What is Small Claims Court?

Small Claims Court is in every state, and usually, it is a municipal court that is designed to help provide recourse to people as well as help them recover small amounts of money. Every state is different in the amount that you can recover.

Philadelphia Municipal Court

In the Philadelphia Municipal Court, you can recover up to a maximum of $12,000 dollars. The court will usually hear negligence actions and contract actions. But what does that mean? Let us go ahead and break it down.

A contract is a written or verbal agreement between two or more parties. Examples of this would be applying and receiving a credit card. That is a contract that you and the company come to. They supply you with a line of credit, and you must pay within the parameters, or you suffer penalties based on the company’s policy, which would be considered a breach of contract.

Negligence is based on the responsibility to look out for another’s well-being. When that duty is broken and someone is hurt physically or emotionally, the victim has the ability to file a claim in order to seek compensation.

Starting a Small Claims Case

If you were to file a claim yourself in the Philadelphia Municipal Court, you would have to go to their office, which is on Chestnut Street, on the 10 th floor. In this situation, only the parties who entered a contract or the victim of negligence can bring an action.

This is not always the case though, as a person who has the right to bring an action may authorize someone who has knowledge of the case to bring the action in their place. The court even has a form, the Authorized Representative Form, just for that purpose. If you are going that route, be sure that before you follow through with filing your suit, you complete that form and it is signed by both the representative and the person who could have brought the action.

The court also has interviewers that are there to help you with the filing process, however, these interviewers cannot by law provide legal advice. There is also a charge in order to file the action and charge to serve the legal papers to the opposing party, but if you are able to prove you cannot afford these charges, the court may allow you to file an action and avoid the initial filing fee.

Lastly, before coming to court you must know the name and the address of the party you plan on suing, and the court will not accept a post office box. If the party being sued is not an individual but an entity, you must make sure that you have the correct name of the corporation, limited liability entity, or partnership depending on what it is.

Below is a picture of the required documents that you must bring with you to court:

The Small Claims Trial

The Small Claims trials are heard in the same building on Chestnut Street, just on the 6 th floor. The information about when the trial is, the time, and which courtroom you will be stated on the original filing that was done.

If you go to request a continuance, it needs to be done at least 10 days before the scheduled trial. All requests in the Philadelphia Municipal Court will need to be addressed to Patricia McDermont, Deputy Court Administrator, and the address for that is 1339 Chestnut Street Room 1020, Philadelphia, PA 19107. A copy must also be sent to all parties and the request must state clearly the reason why a continuance is needed and provide a phone number to call.

If you can’t make a request for a continuance 10 days before the trial, it must be filed in person at the time of the trial and the requesting party must notify all other parties before the trial that the request is going to be made.

Always remember, court starts on time. All parties must be present in the courtroom on the day of the trial on time. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to be able to pass through security and find your way to the proper room. If you are late or fail to appear, a default judgment will be filed against you. The court will send you a notice about it, and you may file a petition to open the judgment on the 10 th floor. However, if you do that, you must have a good reason for missing or being late, must file the petition immediately after learning about the judgment against you, and must have a valid defense.

Before the trial, the court will allow the parties to work together to see if they can come to an agreement with the help of mediators if they want. The mediators are there to represent the court and are trained to help the parties reach a binding agreement.

All agreements are in writing and must be signed by both parties. These agreements are binding and cannot be appealed, and a party should not sign the agreement unless they fully understand what it states. Always remember that a mediator or a judge is always available as well.

If an agreement is not reached, the case will proceed to trial before a judge. The documents filed with the complaint must be brought to the court and the defending party must bring all relevant documents as well. The trial is a formal court proceeding and have guidelines that should be followed:

Maintain your composure and be polite.

Address your comments and questions to the judge unless the judge permits you to ask a question of another party.

Do not interrupt the judge or another party, you will have time to explain your case. Just be patient.

The court in the end will make an oral decision immediately after the trial, or what will happen is they will send the parties a written decision shortly afterward. The court will also provide the parties with options that are available to them.

All Pennsylvania state residents have the legal right to bring a civil action against another individual or business. Eligible persons may also file small claims or class-action lawsuits in a Pennsylvania Court. In class-action suits, a group of people brings an action against one or more parties rather than a sole individual or business. On the other hand, small claim cases are low dollar value cases that are handled by judges in the small claims courts. Under Title 42 § 1123 of Pennsylvania Statutes, these courts are the Magisterial District Courts and the Municipal Courts. The Court of Common Pleas also has jurisdiction over small claims cases and handles appeals from the district and municipal courts.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What Cases are Heard by Small Claims Courts in Pennsylvania?

Under Pennsylvania law, small claims cases under the jurisdiction of the Magisterial District Courts or Philadelphia Courts must amount to $12,000 or lower in damages or controversies. The Court of Common Pleas may also hear these cases. Generally, cases heard by the small claims courts in Pennsylvania involve negligence and contract actions such as accidents, breach of contract, life insurance, property damage, and personal injury matters.

What is a Class Action Lawsuit in Pennsylvania?

Rule 1701 of the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure defines a class action lawsuit as any action brought by or against parties as representatives of a class until the court by order refuses to certify it as such or revokes a prior certification. Examples of class action lawsuits include chemical exposure, data breaches, fraudulent financial services, drug litigation, wage violations, sexual harassment, safety violations in the workplace, insurance suits, employee discrimination, and misleading advertising.

How do I File a Claim in a Pennsylvania Small Claims Court?

Interested parties may file a small claim by first locating the appropriate Magisterial District Court. A case must be filed in the county where the incident occurred or where the defendant is resident, or their business is located. For landlord/tenant claims, the case may be filed where a property is located.

Once the court with jurisdiction is determined, the plaintiff may file the claim by completing a Civil Complaint Form. This form is available at the applicable District Court or on the Florida Judiciary’s website. The law requires the complainant to be 18 years of age or above to file a small claim; however, a parent or legal guardian may file this claim if the plaintiff is a minor.

The plaintiff is then required to submit this form, along with the filing fee to the court in person or by mail. Additional fees are included for serving the defendant. Because these fees vary by county and type of action, the Court Clerk may be contacted for fee schedules and inquiries. Furthermore, the plaintiff must attach the relevant documents needed to prove the action at the time of the original filing. These documents may include invoices, diagrams, estimates, contracts, canceled checks, affidavits, photographs, and correspondences. In Pennsylvania, plaintiffs may also file this claim in a Court of Common Pleas. However, it may be preferable to apply to a district court as the processes are smoother, faster, and less expensive.

Do I Need a Small Claims Lawyer?

No, individuals do not need to hire a lawyer for a small claims case filed in a Magisterial District Court. A significant number of small claims cases heard by these courts are handled without a lawyer. Still, an attorney may assist in getting the necessary and permissible documents for a hearing. However, when the case is to be filed or appealed in a Court of Common Pleas, parties are advised to contract a lawyer’s services. This, because small claims cases in the Common Pleas Court are more formal and sophisticated.

How do Class Action Lawsuits Work in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, class action lawsuits are covered by the Class Action Law. Under this law, a class action lawsuit commences when a group of people or ‘class’ file a complaint about a party’s civil wrongdoings with a Pennsylvania court. This party may be a corporation or institution.

After filing the complaint, the class members must request that the court certify the case as a class action. For this to happen, the suit must meet the criteria outlined in Rule 1708 and 1709 of Pennsylvania Statutes. Some of which include:

  • The size of the class will not cause difficulties while managing the action.
  • The prosecution of a separate action may not create the risk of inconsistent or varying adjudications.
  • There is a conflict of interest.
  • The parties must be fairly and adequately represented.

If the court certifies the case, the class is informed of the lawsuit, and the case is investigated. The defendant may make objections about the validity of the claim at the time of certification. Once the investigation is concluded, and evidence gathered, the case moves to a judge or jury trial to determine the defendant’s liability and damages. However, Rule 171 covers conditions whereby a class action may be compromised, settled, or discontinued upon approval. Class action lawsuits are complex because they involve large corporations and a considerable number of claimants. As a result, these cases may take months to settle.

Is a Class Action Better Than a Single Party Suit?

Whether a class action is better than a single party suit depends on the injuries or losses suffered by a party. A party may be better suited to filing a single party suit if these injuries are more considerable than those experienced by other individuals in the class. However, if this is not the case, an individual may benefit from a class-action lawsuit as it is the less expensive option. This, because members of the class share the litigation costs. Furthermore, a class action is faster, and members of the class are more likely to receive compensation, even in small claims. In class action suits, the law ensures adequate and competent representation for the plaintiffs before the court can proceed. Whereas, in single party suits, the claimant is subject to steep legal fees for proper representation.

Recover money owed, file your Small Claims Court in
Pennsylvania and get fast resolution.
We research your small claims and prepare the right
forms for the right court of Pennsylvania.

Only $149.95

File your small claims online now!

Please select your filing state

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 Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Small Claims Statute of Limitation. – Minimum Amount For Small Claims Court Pennsylvania

In Small Claims Court of Pennsylvania , any individual, business or corporation may bring a small claims suit for the recovery of money when the amount owed is $99.95 or less.

Small Claims Court Pennsylvania Fees

Court fee is $53.00 and $127.50 for commercial claims. Court fees are applied later during the process and not today. Serving is Included. All fees are added to the case against the defendant so you can recover these costs.

How much does it cost to go to small claims court in Pennsylvania

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.

Pennsylvania Small Claims Form

You can get small claims petition form for Pennsylvania in ranging between $53.00 and $127.50, against one defendant. If you would like to file small claims in online court of Pennsylvania, you can file your small claims by hiring small claims attorney and file a state of claims.

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How to file a small claims lawsuit in pennsylvania

As you probably heard last week, Judge Joseph Wapner from the famed “The People’s Court” TV show died last week. I remember growing up in the 80’s watching Judge Wapner hear the small claims court case and render a decision, with the litigants then being interviewed by Doug Llewlyn afterwards. In his honor, I thought I would blog today about handling a small claims court case in Philadelphia involving a car accident or other lawsuit. Small claims court in Philadelphia is handled by the Philadelphia Municipal Court for cases generally involving less than $12,000 being claimed. The Philadelphia Municipal Court has a good pamphlet on the basics of filing a small court claim, which is the general basis of this blog. There are 5 general steps to take in order to handle a small claims court case in Philadelphia:

  1. Make sure your case is worth less than $12,000.

You cannot file a small claims court case in Philadelphia Municipal Court if you claim damages over $12,000. For example, if you were in a car wreck in Philadelphia because another driver failed to yield and you had the right of way, you may want to bring an action in small claims court if the driver who caused the accident will not pay because they are an uninsured driver in Philadelphia or they refuse to report it to their insurance company. However, I would never recommend someone who was injured in a car accident in Philadelphia to file a small claims court case because if you have been injured, your case may well be worth more than $12,000 and you should call an experienced personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia like the Pearce Law Firm. However, if you have just small damage on your car and there were no injuries, this might be a good option it will cost you less. Another type of case that might be appropriate for small claims court would be a breach of contract or property damage where no one is physically injured.

  1. Make sure you have the full and correct name and address of the Defendant and the Defendant lives in Philadelphia or the accident or occurrence happened in Philadelphia.

You must find out the correct name and address of the Defendant (the person you are filing the lawsuit against). It cannot be a PO Box. In order to file in Philadelphia, generally the Defendant must live in Philadelphia or the accident or “occurrence” happened in Philadelphia. For example, if you are suing because of a car accident, you may file a small claims lawsuit in Philadelphia if the car accident happened in Philadelphia or the Defendant lives in Philadelphia. If you are suing about a contract, you may sue in Philadelphia if the contract was signed in Philadelphia or the Defendant lives in Philadelphia. If you are suing a company, make sure you have the correct name and address of the company. For assistance with locating the correct name and address of a Pennsylvania business, you should search for the correct name on the Pennsylvania’s Corporation Bureau website or call them at 717-787-1057.

  1. Gather All Documents To Prove Your Case.

You need to put together all of the documents you need to prove your case. You need to provide these documents to the Defendant before the trial and sometimes you should attach them to your claim or complaint you file. Some examples of documents you may need include: correspondence between you and the party you are suing; documents such as photographs, diagrams, invoices, contracts and cancelled checks; and estimates of the value of damaged property and bills and estimates setting forth the cost to repair or replace damaged property.

  1. File Your Small Claims Court Complaint in Person.

In Philadelphia, you must file your small claims court case in person (not by mail) by going to the court’s first filing office on the 10th floor of 1339 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia court has interviewers to assist you in filling out the paper work. However, the interviewers are not allowed to provide legal advice. Also, there is a cost involved when using small claims court, you will need to pay a filing fee and a charge to serve the legal papers on the defendant. The Philadelphia Municipal Court (small claims court) can be reached at (215) 686-2910 to find out these current prices as they do change periodically.

  1. Show Up to Court on Time and Prove Your Case in Front of the Judge.

If you do not show up for Court on time, your claim may be dismissed. If both parties show up, the parties will be given a chance to settle their case with or without the Court’s mediation program. If the parties cannot reach a settlement, the case will go to trial before a judge. The Philadelphia Municipal Court pamphlet suggests you handle yourself in court before the Judge appropriately by: (1) being polite and maintaining your composure; direct your questions and comments to the judge and not the other party unless the judge allows you to ask questions; and do not interrupt the judge or the other party as you will have your chance to explain your case. At the end of the trial, the judge may render a decision immediately, or you may receive the decision in the mail.

In short, if your case does NOT involve a personal injury in Philadelphia but rather only involves damages to property and the property damages are less than a cost of $12,000, you may want to file your lawsuit in small claims court. However, if you have suffered an injury and require medical attention, it is always smart to at least consult a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer like The Pearce Law Firm before trying to handle a case yourself. We are here to help you.

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Pennsylvania Small Claims Court FAQ Pa Small Claims

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
  • Summons
  • Return of Summons
  • Answer
  • Subpoena
  • Abstract of Judgment

A large number of lawsuits that are brought across the nation do not involve millions or even thousands of dollars. Small claims courts were created precisely to deal with claims that fall below an amount set by each state’s laws. Sometimes lawsuits are brought in these courts simply for “the principle” of the matter. These small claims courts are intended to provide a relatively inexpensive and quick way for litigants to resolve their legal disputes, and are frequently used to handle disputes involving contracts, landlords and tenants, and consumers. In FindLaw’s Small Claims Court section, you can find an article providing a general overview of the steps to filing a lawsuit in a small claims court as well as information and resources related to small claims courts in each state.

How to File a Lawsuit in Small Claims Court

The specific procedure for filing a lawsuit in small claims court will depend on the laws of your county and/or state. Often times, courts’ websites will provide helpful information on how to file a case in small claims courts. Some courts even offer “small claims advisors” who can answer simple procedural questions and guide you through the system, without any cost to you. It’s important to be aware of the fact that some of the legal procedures are not present in a small claims case – such as discovery – there is still a statute of limitations for small claims. The statute of limitations means that the claim must be filed within a certain period of time after the incident that is determined by the laws of each state.

As previously mentioned, the procedure for a small claims lawsuit will depend on the jurisdiction, but there is a general procedure that a typical case follows. First, the plaintiff files a complaint, which is usually done on a form provided by the court, and often pays a filing fee. Once the complaint is filed with the court, the plaintiff is required to provide a copy of the complaint to the defendant in a manner that complies with state laws. Once the defendant receives a copy, he or she has a certain number of days to answer the complaint. If he or she fails to answer the complaint, the defendant will typically be considered in default, which means that he or she will be liable for the claim.

Hiring an Attorney

Some states and counties do not allow plaintiffs or defendants to be represented by an attorney in a small claims court. For this reason, it’s important to check your local court rules before hiring an attorney for your small claims case. However, even if your local court requires that you represent yourself, you can typically consult with a litigation attorney if you have any questions related to your case. It may also be a good idea to contact a litigation attorney if you have questions about whether or not your case qualifies for small claims court, or if you’re wondering how much you monetary damages you can seek for the type of harm you have suffered.

Learn About Small Claims Court

How to File a Small Claims Lawsuit

Overview and practical advice on how to gather the proper materials and file a case in small claims court, including information on claim limits; statutes of limitation; and self-representation.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Small Claims Court?

You do not need a lawyer for small claims court, and some states don’t even allow you to have one. The downside is that things may take longer, you may need to invest hours of your time in research, and you could make mistakes or leave money on the table.

What Can I Sue for in Small Claims Court?

Small claims court has “limited jurisdiction,” meaning that they can only hear specific types of cases. Most small claims courts can only hear civil cases involving small amounts of money, usually around $10,000 or less.

Settling Small Business Claims in Small Claims Court

How small businesses can settle disputes with customers through small claims court, including general guidelines on claim amount limits; statutes of limitation; and where to file your claim.