How to Sue Someone in Small Claims Court

by James Sullivan

How to Sue Someone in Small Claims CourtDo you know how to sue someone in small claims court? It may not be as hard or as intimidating as you might think. Small claims court is truly the people’s court and can give everyday folks the opportunity to settle smaller disputes with lower costs and finality.  

How to Sue Someone in Small Claims Court

Here are five things that you need to know about how to sue someone in small claims court.

Figure out who you are suing

Is the person you are suing a person (a heartbeat), or is it a small business.  If so is it an LLC, S-Corp, or partnership, a large corporation, or a governmental entity.  Depending on you who sue, make sure you are properly get their full legal name of the person and/or the entity.  Doing this incorrectly may result in your suit being dismissed. Get your credit and finances on track with Lex OnTrack

Know your limits

Small claims court have jurisdictional amounts, this varies in all 50 states but is typically under $10,000.00.

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Know the subject matter of your suit

Small claims usually settle small monetary disputes, you can also sue for ejectment as a landlord in cases of landlord-tenant cases.  Breach of contract, trespass, damage to chattels (property) are common issues taken up by small claims court.

Stay organized

To have the best chance to prevail in any court you have to have evidence.  Provide any and all documents, physical evidence and testimony that you think may be helpful to your case.  Organize your testimony into several questions that directly address the points you want to make.

Getting Paid: If everything goes well and you win your case when do you get paid? You probably won’t get a check from the other party as soon as you win.  What will you will have is a judgment against them (they being a debtor). 

Typically it is up to you to collect on your judgment.  You need to first obtain a writ of execution (name may vary in your jurisdiction), this serves as proof that you have a valid legal judgment and a corresponding right to collect against the named debtor. 

This is document You will have to go to the local Sheriff’s office to do this.    There are three ways you can do this:

  1. Bank levy: seizing money from your debtor’s bank account.  You will need the debtor’s bank name, account number, and exact name the on account. 
  2. Real Estate Lien: If the debtor owns the property, you can claim part of its value by placing a lien against it.  Placing a lien is done by filing your judgment in the land records office of the county where the property is.
  3. Wage Garnishment:  The easiest way is to go to the sheriff and give information about the judgment and the writ and the sheriff can collect up to 25% of the debtor’s paycheck up until the debt is satisfied.  Note: you cannot garnish money used for basic support including child support or if the debtor owes another garnishment.  

What about you? Do you know how to sue someone in small claims court? Have you ever sued someone in small claims court? What made your experience a success or a flop? 

Note: The foregoing information presented should not be construed as specific legal advice. It is for informational purposes only, and you should address any specific questions towards an attorney in your area.  

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About James Sullivan

James Sullivan is an experienced criminal defense attorney. He has written extensively for many nationally known financial websites and publications.


James Sullivan has written 3 articles on Money Q&A. Learn more about Money Q&A on Twitter @MoneyQandA and @HankColeman.


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