Eight Important Things to Do before Filing for Court - dummies

Eight Important Things to Do before Filing for Court

By Judge Philip Straniere

Part of Filing & Winning Small Claims For Dummies Cheat Sheet

“I’ll see you in court!” It feels good to say sometimes when you’re angry, but before you go filing your claim, here are some things you should consider:

  1. Before you file your claim, take time to think about the situation and cool off.

    Maybe the other guy isn’t really at fault or the problem isn’t as big as you first thought.

  2. Explore other options for resolving your dispute.

    Approaching a situation with a reasonable attitude can often defuse the conflict and keep you out of court. This is particularly true when the person you are thinking of suing is someone you know well.

  3. Think about having a third party intervene to resolve the dispute.

    Consider asking a mutual acquaintance or using a mediator.

  4. Consult with a lawyer to ensure you have a good case and one that is fitting for small claims court.

    If you can’t afford or find a lawyer, contact your small claims court to find out its rules and whether your case is one that can be heard there.

  5. Find out where you must file your paperwork; that is, choose the correct location for your suit.

    Be sure you fill out all the necessary forms correctly. Having to redo any of this is costly and time-consuming.

  6. Sit down and think about what kind of case you have.

    Is it a contract breach? Property damage? This will help you fill out your forms correctly in the court.

  7. Gather your facts about the defendant.

    Know the legal name and address of the person or business you want to sue.

  8. Be polite when dealing with the clerk.

    Clerks are there to help you, and they will if you are nice.