Questions most frequently asked about Small Claims:
Q: Where do I get Small Claims forms?
A: Forms can be obtained by stopping by the Small Claims office. The clerk will also mail forms to you if you live out of town. The address and telephone number are listed above.
Q: What does it cost to file a claim?
A: The filing fee is currently $50.00 plus the cost of service, which is necessary to take a defendant to court.
Q: Where do I find a process server?
A: The Small Claims Clerk will provide a list along with information as to what each processor charges. The Clerk will assist you by accepting the fee and passing the papers to the processor.
Q: When do I have to pay for service?
A: Fees for a processor are paid at the time you pay the clerk the filing fee. Thos costs, called court costs, are added to the amount you are suing for. If you are awarded a judgment, the costs are passed on to the defendant.
Q: How do I know when to go to court?
A: The clerk will assign a court date at the time you file the claim.
Q: Do I need an attorney?
A: No. Small Claims courts is designed with special rules so that you may represent yourself. The same court is called Civil if attorneys are involved.
Q: Am I the Plaintiff or the Defendant?
A: The person being sued is the defendant. You may remember by knowing that he is required to defend his innocence pertaining to your claim. If you are suing, you are the Plaintiff.
Q: When does the court make the person pay if I get a judgment?
A: The court only determines who has made their case; it does not make people pay nor collect on your behalf.
Q: How do I get my money?
A: When you hold a judgment in your favor, you have the option of garnishing the defendant’s wages or his bank account. Ten days after the judgment, the plaintiff may have a Writ of Garnishment issued.
Q: Where do I do this?
A: The Plaintiff returns to the Small Claims office and pays a $10 fee. After providing the name and address of the Defendant’s employer, the Clerk will prepare the documents and instruct you on mailing. The cost of mailing is $5.21 and you will be notified by the post office when your Writ has been delivered. You return the green postcard to the Clerk’s office.
Q: What happens when I send a Writ to a bank?
A: It becomes the responsibility of the financial institution to notify the court if there are funds. In the event the defendant has accounts, those are frozen until notified by the bank.
Q: Can I get this “truck” (property) if he wont pay me?
A: You may obtain a Writ of Execution where the Sheriff takes possession of the Defendant’s property and it is sold. You are paid from these proceeds. This is a more complicated process and usually requires an attorney.