Small Claims Courts and How They Work

For information on the court location that handles small claims matters for your town and the address and telephone number of the court see Where to file small claims matters. The person starting the case is called the plaintiff; the person being sued is called the defendant.

In most small claims courts, cases are heard within 30-40 days after filing the plaintiff ‘s claim, but they are never set for earlier than 20 days or more than 70 days after the claim is filed. Most cases are heard on weekdays, but some courts also schedule evening and Saturday sessions.

A small claims case is a civil action for a money judgment in which the amount of damages is $5,000 or less. An action for forcible entry and detainer arising out of a landlord tenant dispute can be brought in small claims court. In small claims court, cases are tried before a judge, not a jury.

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Small claims are handled less formally than other cases. While you can hire a lawyer if you choose, the rules of evidence and procedure in small claims cases are simplified to make it easier to represent yourself. To be tried as a small claim in District Court, your case must meet the following conditions: Your claim is for $5,000 or less; and,

See the step-by-step guide: 5 Steps to Get You Through small claims court. gavel image. The Small Claims Courts in New York operate under uniform laws .

The magistrate court in many instances functions as a Small Claims Court.. it must be requested in writing at least five working days prior to the date set for trial .

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After your claim is filed, the Small Claims Court clerk will serve a notice of your claim by sending it to the defendant. The notice of claim tells the defendant when to appear in Small Claims Court, and includes a brief statement of your claim and the amount of money you are requesting.