Cover image for Everybody's guide to small claims court
Title:
Everybody's guide to small claims court
ISBN:
9781413327335
Edition:
18th ed.
Physical Description:
418 pages ; 23 cm.
General Note:
Includes index.
Added Corporate Author:
Summary:
Win your small claims case! You don't need a lawyer to succeed in small claims court if you know how to present your own case. Properly preparing for your day in court can make the difference between receiving a check and writing one. Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court provides the information, tips, and strategies you need to sue someone successfully or put up a winning defense in any state. Find out how to: file and serve papers mediate an out-of-court settlement prepare evidence to support your case decide how much to sue for line up persuasive witnesses present a winning case, and collect money when you win. The 18th edition's updated settlement section explains negotiation techniques you can use to settle your small claims case-or any other disagreement you might have-without going to court. You'll also find the latest procedures for small claims courts in every state, sample letters, legal forms, a statute of limitations chart that will help you determine when you must file your case, and links to online resources.
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Summary

Summary

Win your small claims case!

You don't need a lawyer to succeed in small claims court if you know how to present your own case. Properly preparing for your day in court can make the difference between receiving a check and writing one.

Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court provides the information, tips, and strategies you need to sue someone successfully or put up a winning defense in any state. Find out how to:

file and serve papers mediate an out-of-court settlement prepare evidence to support your case decide how much to sue for line up persuasive witnesses present a winning case, and collect money when you win.

The 18th edition's updated settlement section explains negotiation techniques you can use to settle your small claims case--or any other disagreement you might have--without going to court. You'll also find the latest procedures for small claims courts in every state, sample letters, legal forms, a statute of limitations chart that will help you determine when you must file your case, and links to online resources.

USE THIS BOOK FOR:

car repair disputes motor vehicle accident cases landlord-tenant issues small business disputes dog-related cases defamation issues and more.


Author Notes

Cara O'Neill is a bankruptcy attorney in Northern California and a legal editor with Nolo. She has been practicing law in California for over 20 years and is the author of Nolo's Chapter 13 Bankruptcy and The New Bankruptcy, and the co-author of How to File for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, Money Troubles, and more.


Table of Contents

Your Small Claims Court Companionp. 1
1 Basics of Small Claims Courtp. 3
Why Use Small Claims Court?p. 4
Will Small Claims Work for You?p. 5
How to Use This Bookp. 8
2 Do You Have a Good Case?p. 11
Stating Your Claimp. 12
But Is My Case Any Good?p. 13
Breach of Contract Casesp. 17
Personal Injury and Property Damage Casesp. 26
Defective Product Casesp. 34
Breach of Warranty Casesp. 35
Professional Malpractice Casesp. 39
Nuisance Casesp. 40
3 Can You Collect Your Money If You Win?p. 43
4 How Much Can You Sue For?p. 47
Cutting Your Claim to Fit the Limitp. 48
Calculating the Amount of Your Claimp. 49
Equitable Relief (or, Money Can't Always Solve the Problem)p. 61
5 When Should You Sue?p. 65
Statute of Limitationsp. 66
Calculating the Statute of Limitationsp. 70
What If the Statute of Limitations Has Run?p. 73
6 Settling Your Disputep. 75
Negotiationp. 76
The Negotiation Processp. 77
Mediationp. 82
Formal Demand Lettersp. 85
Get Your Settlement in Writing (a Release)p. 95
Last Minute Agreementsp. 98
7 Who Can Sue?p. 101
Married Couplesp. 102
Sole Proprietorshipsp. 104
Business Partnershipsp. 104
Corporationsp. 104
Limited Liability Companiesp. 104
Nonprofits and Unincorporated Associationsp. 105
Motor Vehicle Claimsp. 105
Government Agenciesp. 105
Special Rules for Prisoners and Military Personnelp. 105
Suits by Minorsp. 106
Class Actions (Group Lawsuits)p. 106
Participation by Attorneys and Bill Collectorsp. 108
8 Suing Different Kinds of Defendantsp. 109
One Personp. 110
Two or More Peoplep. 110
Individually Owned Businessesp. 111
Partnershipsp. 113
Corporations and Limited Liability Companies (LLCs)p. 114
Motor Vehicle Accident Casesp. 114
How to Sue Minorsp. 115
How to Sue Government Agenciesp. 116
A Deceased Person's Estatep. 118
9 Where Can You Sue?p. 119
Out-of-State Defendantsp. 120
Defendants in Your Statep. 122
If You Are Sued in the Wrong Courtp. 126
10 Filing Fees, Court Papers, and Court Datesp. 129
How Much Does It Cost?p. 130
Filing Your Lawsuitp. 130
The Defendant's Formsp. 132
Jury Trialsp. 133
Your Court Datep. 133
11 Serving Your Papersp. 137
Who Must Be Servedp. 138
Where Can Papers Be Served?p. 139
Serving an Individualp. 139
Serving a Businessp. 145
How to Serve a Government Agencyp. 146
Time Limits for Serving a Claimp. 147
Proof of Service-Letting the Court Knowp. 148
Serving a Defendant's Claimp. 148
Serving Subpoenasp. 149
Costs of Servicep. 149
12 The Defendant's Optionsp. 153
If You Are Not Properly Servedp. 154
If You Are Sued in the Wrong Courtp. 155
If the Statute of Limitations Has Expiredp. 156
Try to Compromisep. 156
Try to Mediatep. 157
If You Have No Defensep. 158
Paying in installmentsp. 158
If You, Not the Plaintiff, Were Wronged-File a Defendant's Claimp. 159
Transferring Your Case to a Higher Courtp. 159
Fight Backp. 160
13 Getting Ready for Courtp. 163
Using a Private Lawyerp. 165
Consider Mediation-Againp. 165
Be Preparedp. 166
Getting to the Courthousep. 167
The Courtroomp. 167
The Judge or Commissionerp. 169
Your Courtroom Strategyp. 172
Organize Your Testimony and Evidencep. 173
14 Witnessesp. 175
What Makes a Good Witnessp. 176
How to Subpoena Witnessesp. 179
How to Subpoena Police and Other Peace Officersp. 182
How to Subpoena Documentsp. 182
Witness Testimony by Letterp. 184
Judges as Witnessesp. 188
Testimony by Telephonep. 189
15 Your Day in Courtp. 191
If the Defendant Is a No-Showp. 192
If the Plaintiff Is a No-Showp. 196
Your Day in Courtp. 197
Recovering Costsp. 204
A Sample Contested Casep. 205
16 Motor Vehicle Repair Casesp. 209
Do You Have a Case?p. 210
Prepare for Courtp. 212
Appearing in Courtp. 214
17 Motor Vehicle Purchase Casesp. 217
New Vehiclesp. 218
Used Vehicles From Dealersp. 221
Used Vehicles From Private Partiesp. 224
18 Bad Debts: Initiating and Defending Casesp. 229
Who Should Appear in Court?p. 231
From the Plaintiff's Point of Viewp. 232
From the Debtor's Point of Viewp. 237
19 Vehicle Accident Casesp. 243
Who Can Sue Whom?p. 245
Was There a Witness?p. 245
Traffic Collision Reportsp. 246
Determining Faultp. 246
Diagramsp. 247
Photosp. 248
Estimatesp. 248
Your Demand Letterp. 249
Appearing in Courtp. 249
20 Landlord-Tenant Casesp. 253
Security Deposit Casesp. 255
Unpaid Rent and Former Tenantsp. 262
Former Tenants' Defenses to Unpaid Rentp. 264
Drug Dealing and Other Crimesp. 266
The Obnoxious Landlordp. 267
The Landlord's Right of Entry and the Tenant's Right of Privacyp. 268
Discriminationp. 269
Evictions for Nonpayment of Rentp. 270
21 Miscellaneous Casesp. 273
Clothing (Alteration and Cleaning)p. 274
Dog-Related Casesp. 275
Damage to Real Estate (Land and Buildings)p. 277
Defamationp. 279
Online Transactionsp. 280
22 Disputes Between Small Businessesp. 283
Remember: You Didn't Always Hate the Other Guyp. 284
Organizing Your Casep. 285
A Case Study-Proving a Contract Existsp. 289
A Case Study-Personal Services Contractp. 292
23 Judgment and Appealp. 297
The Judgmentp. 298
Paying the Judgmentp. 300
Satisfaction of Judgmentp. 302
The Appealp. 304
24 Collecting Your Moneyp. 313
The Timing of Collecting Your Moneyp. 314
How to Collectp. 316
Installment Paymentsp. 319
Judgments Against Government Agenciesp. 320
Finding the Debtor's Assetsp. 323
Levying on Wages, Bank Accounts, and Other Propertyp. 327
Judgments From Auto Accidentsp. 337
Property Liensp. 338
Collection Costsp. 338
Renew Your Judgmentp. 339
25 Legal Researchp. 343
Local Lawsp. 344
State Lawsp. 345
Case Lawp. 350
Appendixes
A Small Claims Court Rules for the 50 States (and the District of Columbia)p. 357
B Legal Jargon for Small Claims Courtp. 399
Indexp. 405