Being sued in small claims court will require immediate action. You’ll need to be prepared to plead your case in front of a moderator and, in the worst case scenario, in front of the judge as well. You’ll be given sufficient time from when the papers were served to gather all of your necessary paperwork and proof pertaining to the case.
Seek Legal Counsel
Getting sued in small claims court may require the assistance of a lawyer. This must be determined on the overall claim itself and the monetary value sought. If the value of the claim is substantial, or higher than the cost of hiring a lawyer, it is recommended that a lawyer is secured.
If the court papers were not served properly, you can call the courthouse to raise your concerns and ask to reschedule the court date.
Going to Court
It’s recommended that both parties try and reach an agreement prior to going to court. If an agreement isn’t made, both parties may be required to speak with a mediator. A mediator will try to listen to both party’s arguments, come to an agreement, and ensure that cases that don’t need to be seen by a judge are remedied.
Getting sued in small claims court may mean going in front of the judge. You can choose to represent yourself, or have a lawyer represent you. A judge will only be able to award damages up to the legal maximum plus court fees.
As a defendant being sued in small claims court, you may ask if you can pay the plaintiff in installments. This can be requested prior to entering the courthouse if an agreement can be made. If you believe that the plaintiff owes you money, you or your lawyer can file what’s known as a “Claim of Defendant.”