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Filing & Winning Small Claims

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How to Give Notice of Your Small Claims Suit via Mail

Because small claims court is designed to keep litigation costs down, the most common method of giving notice to the defendant in small claims court is by mail. Mail is the cheapest method. [more…]

How to Give Notice of Your Small Claims Suit via Personal Delivery

Personal delivery, having the pleadings actually handed to the named defendant, is the best way to give the defendant notice of your small claims suit. It is also the way you always see it happen on TV [more…]

How to Give Notice of Your Small Claims Suit via Substituted Service

Substituted service is when the small claims pleadings cannot be hand-delivered to the named defendant but are delivered to a person of suitable age and discretion — [more…]

How to Give Notice of Your Small Claims Suit via Conspicuous Service

Conspicuous service, otherwise known as affix and mail or nail and mail service, occurs when the small claims process server cannot find the defendant at the defendant’s home after making several attempts [more…]

Should You Serve a Small Claims Defendant Yourself?

Serving the defendant yourself of a small claims suit is a bad idea on several levels, including the fact that it usually isn’t permitted in small claims or other courts. This is because you have a vested [more…]

What to Expect from a Small Claims Defendant

After the defendant is served, she should follow the directions on the summons and complaint, and either go to small claims court and file a written answer if that is the practice or appear in court on [more…]

What You Should Know if You Choose Arbitration for Your Small Claims Suit

Arbitration means submitting the small claims dispute to a disinterested third party who conducts a hearing and renders a decision that may or not be binding. The two types of arbitration are [more…]

What You Should Know if You Choose to Settle Your Small Claims Suit

At some point the defendant may contact you and offer to settle the small claims case. You can settle a case at any point before you actually walk through the courtroom doors, and you have several very [more…]

What to Do When You Are Served with Small Claims Papers

If you’re the defendant, it’s wise to read all the advice given to the plaintiff, so you understand how small claims court works. Knowing what the opposition is up to may also give you some ideas on how [more…]

How to Respond to a Small Claims Summons

Unless you’re the type of person who gets sued on a regular basis, getting served small claims papers can really ruin your day. You may be chomping at the bit to point out what a liar the plaintiff is [more…]

What to Expect When You Show Up for Small Claims Court

Knowing what to expect when you show up for small claims court can help things go smoothly. One of the most important things you can do to get in good with the court is be on time. Better still, get there [more…]

How to Deal with the Judge of Your Small Claims Case

All judges take their jobs very seriously, even in small claims court. They realize how they treat you as a litigant affects how you’ll view the law and the fairness of the judicial system. Because the [more…]

How to Get a Small Claims Postponement

You may find yourself having prepared for court only to have some unexpected event occur resulting in a postponement of your small claims trial. There’s a simple answer to the question “Can I postpone [more…]

The Burden of Proof in Small Claims Cases

The plaintiff in a small claims case — the person bringing the case against a defendant — always has the burden of proof. This means that you have the responsibility to establish what happened and have [more…]

Direct Versus Circumstantial Evidence in Small Claims Cases

As a plaintiff, you must provide the evidence to prove your case. There are two types of evidence: direct and circumstantial. As a plaintiff, always try and gather as much direct evidence as you can. [more…]

Discovery of the Facts in Small Claims Cases

In small claims court, the procedure for either the plaintiff or the defendant to find out more about the other side’s case is called discovery. Although rare in small claims court, it’s a fact-finding [more…]

How to Subpoena Information for Small Claims Cases

The closest thing to discovery in most small claims court cases is the use of the subpoena. A subpoena is a legal document that directs a person to come to court and either bring evidence needed for the [more…]

How to Present Evidence in Small Claims Cases

Sometimes what you need to prove your small claims case is not testimony from other people but hard evidence in the form of documents or photographs that graphically prove your point. It’s your job to [more…]

How to Choose Not to Be Your Own Witness in Small Claims Court

If you’re filing your case in small claims court, you’re probably willing — if not downright eager — to be a witness and get into the courtroom and tell your side of the story. In most cases, it goes without [more…]

How to Call the Defendant as a Witness in Small Claims Court

As you’re preparing for trial in your small claims suit, you may wonder whether you should call the defendant to the witness stand as part of your case. In certain situations you do, but generally, unless [more…]

Question Categories for Small Claims Court

Questioning witnesses in small claims court isn’t really rocket science, but it does take preparation and considerable thought. You want your questions to elicit the testimony you want to help your case [more…]

How to Ask Leading Questions in Small Claims Court

A leading question is a question in a small claims trial that contains the answer in it so that the witness only has to answer “yes” or “no.” For example, in a landlord-tenant case asking the tenant, “the [more…]

Present Affidavits in Place of Live Witnesses in Small Claims Court

Whether you’re the plaintiff or the defendant in a small claims suit, relying on a witness to prove your case is always a problem, especially if the witness is not a family member or friend and doesn’t [more…]

How to Impeach a Witness in Small Claims Court

Impeaching a witness can make a powerful statement in your small claims case. Witness impeaching means calling a witness’s credibility into question, and trying to cast doubt that what a witness says is [more…]

How to Use an Expert Witness in Small Claims Court

Even in small claims cases, you may need the testimony of a witness who possesses some special knowledge or skill in order to prove your case. In the legal profession, such a person is known as an [more…]

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