Filing Your Claim
In Small Claims Court, all lawsuits start when a Small Claims Complaint is filed with the court.
If you need to sue someone for less than $6,000.00, you will need to complete and submit the Small Claims Complaint Form. There is a filing fee to file a Small Claims Complaint.
As the person who is starting the claim, you are known as the plaintiff. The person who you are suing is known as the defendant. Every person or business that the plaintiff believes is legally responsible for the claim should be listed as a defendant. The Complaint should include the defendants’ exact legal names, addresses and phone numbers. Fill out the form carefully and completely and file it with the Clerk of Court. Please note that the Complaint must be signed before a notary public or one of the Court’s clerks.
Service of Process
Once you have filed your Complaint with the Clerk of Court, the Clerk will attempt to send the complaint to the defendant(s) at the address you provide. This is known as “service of process”.
If service is not perfected on the defendant, your case cannot go forward.
There are two ways the Clerk attempts to serve a party in Small Claims cases:
- One copy of the Complaint plus a Court Summons is served by U.S. Certified Mail. If the US Post Office fails to serve the package, the Clerk will notify the plaintiff in writing and ask for new instructions for service. There is a filing fee for Alias Service.
- One copy of the Complaint plus a Court Summons is served by a court bailiff on the defendant. The plaintiff may file a written request with the Clerk requesting bailiff service instead of U.S. Certified Mail or after Certified Mail service is unsuccessful. Bailiff service will only be attempted within the jurisdiction. There is a filing fee required for bailiff service.
If there is no service, your case will be dismissed six (6) months after the date it was filed. If you want to refile your case, you will be required to pay a new filing fee.