Many people have had the frustrating experience of losing money on a product that doesn’t work, a repair that didn’t fix the problem, or on services that were never performed. Most of the time, a complaint or a conversation with a manager will fix the issue and everyone walks away happy. Sometimes, however, no amount of complaining works and legal action seems like the only option left; in these cases, should you consider filing a lawsuit in small claims court? If so, do you need an attorney?
Small claims court is meant to help individuals resolve disputes that involve less than a certain amount of money. In all three South Florida counties, small claims court is reserved for people suing for damages under $5,000. People seeking more than $5,000 are required to file a regular lawsuit in county or circuit court.
The small claims system is geared towards helping pro se individuals who are not represented by attorneys. This does not mean, however, that you cannot hire an attorney. In most cases, people with an attorney are at a distinct advantage in small claims, especially against an unrepresented defendant. It can be difficult to navigate the legal system on your own, and having an attorney on your side makes the process much easier.
In general, a small claims plaintiff can expect to spend about $125 in court costs and filing fees. The fees will increase or decrease depending on the amount of the claim. For claims that are closer to $5,000, the fees will be higher—around $300. For those claims on the lower end, the fees may only $55-$75. Court costs and filing fees remain the same whether you hire an attorney or not.
Once you file the claim, you must then serve the defendant and pursue him or her in court. The office and website of each county’s Clerk of Courts contain resources meant to help pro se plaintiffs figure out what steps they need to take in order to win their case. If the small claims plaintiff does win, that he or she will then have to figure out how to go about collecting the money from the defendant.Smalls claims court can be a powerful tool for people who are owed money. However, it is important to weigh the time and cost necessary to pursue the complaint with that you are owed and the feasibility of collecting the judgment. In addition, while you can file a lawsuit in small claims yourself, it is always worth discussing your claim with an attorney. At Loan Lawyers, we can evaluate your claim and let you know what your best options are for getting made whole again. To schedule your free appointment, contact us today by calling (888) FIGHT-13 (344-4813).