Small Claims FAQ's
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Frequently Asked Questions:
WHAT IS A SMALL CLAIMS CASE? A Small Claims case is a legal action filed in county court to settle minor legal disputes among parties where the dollar amount involved is $5,000.00 or less, excluding costs, interest and attorney fees.
DO I NEED A LAWYER? No, it is not necessary to have a lawyer. Small Claims court is considered a "peoples court" and a lawyer is not required. Clerk's Office personnel will provide you with the necessary forms for filing a Small Claims case. You may wish to consult with an attorney if there are complex legal issues or, you need legal advice on your rights and obligations. The Clerk's Office and Judges' Office staff cannot provide you with any legal advice.
WHO CAN FILE A SMALL CLAIMS CASE? Any person(s) eighteen (18) years or older or any individual(s) doing business as a company may file a Small Claims case. A parent or guardian may file on behalf of a minor child.
WHAT DOES IT COST TO FILE A SMALL CLAIMS CASE? Filing fees for Small Claims actions are determined by Florida Statutes and fees vary in accordance with the dollar amount of your claim. Other fees are required for service on the parties you are suing and are dependent on the type of service you select. A current Fee Schedule is available on this website, as well as in any Clerks Office for your information.
WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED TO FILE A SMALL CLAIMS CASE? It is important that you file your claim against the right party. The additional time you spend researching the correct name could make a difference in whether you are able to collect should a Judgment be entered by the court in your favor. Copies of any contracts, notes, leases, receipts or other evidence you may have in support of your claim must be furnished for each person you are suing as well as the court. You will need to bring the originals to your first court appearance. A full explanation of your reason for the Small Claims action will be necessary. You may wish to write this explanation out at home and bring it with you when you come to the Clerk's Office to initiate your Small Claims case.
ARE THERE OTHER REQUIREMENTS?
Any time you sue someone other
than an individual, there is additional information needed to complete the
necessary forms. For example, are you suing an individual doing business as a
company; a partnership where there are several people doing business as a
company; a corporation and are they incorporated; or an insurance company? It is
important for you to research this information carefully. Assistance in
determining if the person you are suing is a company, corporation, an individual
doing business as a company or partnership may be obtained by calling:
The Secretary of State's web site is
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I FILE MY SMALL CLAIMS CASE? After you file your Small Claims case, each person or business you are suing must be served with a Summons to appear in court on the date and time scheduled when you filed your claim. This court date will be a pretrial conference and you should be prepared to present your case to the court. If the dispute cannot be settled at the pretrial conference, a trial date will be scheduled by the court for your case to be heard. You must appear at the trial with all witnesses and documentation of your claim. At the trial you will have an opportunity to explain your case to the judge, ask the person(s) you are suing any questions concerning your claim, present your documentation as discussed at the pretrial conference and call on your witnesses to help explain your case.
CAN I HAVE A JURY TRIAL ON MY SMALL CLAIMS CASE? Yes, a trial by jury may be requested by the person(s) filing the Small Claims case [plaintiff(s)] upon written demand at the time the case is filed. Someone being filed against [defendant] may request a jury trial within five days after service of Notice or at the pretrial conference.
WHAT HAPPENS TO MY CASE IF A SETTLEMENT IS REACHED? If, at any time in the proceedings a settlement is reached between the parties, the plaintiff [person(s) who filed suit] must notify the Clerk of the Circuit Court's Office, in writing, of the settlement. If a trial date has been scheduled, the judge before whom the case is set should be notified.
HOW CAN I COLLECT MY JUDGMENT?
This information may assist you with the methods available for the enforcement of your judgment. Please
remember that the Clerks who assisted you in the filing of your claim are not lawyers and are not allowed by law to give
legal advice. This information sheet is not intended to give you a complete statement of the law relating to court judgments,
but rather a brief overview of some of the rights you may have. You may be well advised to confer with an attorney. You may wish to
contact the Florida Bar Referral Service (LRS), 1-800-342-8011 or 1-800-342-8060 extension 5844.
WHERE CAN I FILE MY SMALL CLAIMS CASE?
To file a small claims case complete the
Statement of Claims form and bring it to one of the following