Small Claims Court

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Small Claims Court is a state court that handles civil claims for small amounts of money. For example, in some states claims under $5000 could be handled by Small Claims Court. The Small Claims Court is typically a division of the state trial court of limited jurisdiction, although in New Jersey, it is part of the Superior Court. Small claims court usually involves simplified rules and active participation by the judge in questioning witnesses.

People often represent themselves in Small Claims Court rather than hire an attorney. Businesses sued for less than $5000, though, often do hire attorneys, in the hopes that plaintiff-individuals will settle for a pittance before going before the judge. Small claims court judges, unfortunately, are swamped with cases, and rarely have time to hear the nuances that may entitle one person or another to what is (to some) a substantial amount of money. Some small claims courts require mediation before seeing a judge; this is also generally the best option in a small claims court situation.