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Eight Key Things to Think About after You've Been to Court

Part of the Filing & Winning Small Claims For Dummies Cheat Sheet

When the arguments have been made and countered and the judge has had time to mull over the evidence and statements given in court, it will be time to hear judgment. Here's what you need to consider after your trial.

  1. Be prepared to lose.

    There are lots of reasons why cases are lost; two of the biggest reasons are not being prepared for the trial and not understanding the legal and factual issues involved. But no matter how well you prepare, you still can lose.

  2. Check out the rules concerning appealing a decision before you start your trial.

    This way, if you lose, you can act quickly to appeal, and if you win you can be ready to defend your position should the defendant appeal.

  3. Think about how you will collect if you win.

    Getting a judgment and getting paid are two different things. If you've done your homework, you will have information on the defendant's assets, such as keeping copies of checks from the defendant so you can locate a bank account or even just knowing where the defendant works.

  4. Consider entering into a payment plan with the defendant.

    Is it better to take less money immediately or to chase the defendant to be paid? It's your choice.

  5. Don't ignore any notices from the court any time you get one.

    Even after the trial, the other side can apply to the court for some relief such as a new trial. Actually, not ignoring notices from any court at any time is a rule to follow.

  6. Be prepared to wait a long time to be paid; this is not unusual in small claims cases.

    Recognize that, for the most part, the court doesn't collect the money for you; it's up to you to enforce any judgment you get.

  7. Be open to a learning experience.

    If you lose, it could well be that you didn't have a great case, or that you just weren't prepared enough to prove it. Either way, take what you can from the experience.

  8. Don't take a loss personally.

    The judge really doesn't hate you.

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Filing & Winning Small Claims For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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