A small claims case is a lawsuit brought for the recovery of money damages, civil penalties, personal property, or other relief allowed by law.
The amount of debt or damages for which you may sue in small claims court may not exceed 10,000, excluding statutory interest and court costs but including attorney fees, if any. You can sue for court costs, but do not include the court cost to the amount you are suing for, but you do need to indicate that you want to be reimbursed for the costs of court. A plaintiff can only sue for attorney fees if there is an attorney of record representing the plaintiff.
Small claims cases are governed by rules 500-507 of part v of the rules of civil procedure. A suit shall be brought in the county and precinct in which one or more defendants reside.
It is the plaintiff’s duty to provide the correct legal name and address of the person or business your claim is against. There are typically three proper names, they are as follows:
- Personally: where an individual is responsible to you for damages he may have caused you as an individual
- Proprietor or Partnership: a business that in not incorporated, but does have on file with the county clerk as assumed name e.g. john tate d.b.a john tate ind./dba mercantile supplies. To determine whether or not this person has filed an assumed name, you would contact the county clerk at the smith county courthouse.
- Corporation: the business which has allegedly caused you damage is incorporated and then it is necessary to know the individual’s name who is able to accept service on behalf of the corporation. We also need the individual’s address (the authorized agent for service would be listed with the secretary of state whose phone number is 1-512-463-5555).
You are strongly urged to discuss your case with an attorney if you are suing a proprietor, partnership or corporation. You are responsible for suing the correct party in their correct capacity. Nothing within this section should be construed as legal advice. For help in understanding the justice courts and the Small Claims process, two self-help documents are provided as follows:
- Self-Help Information Packet When a Small Claims Case Has Been Filed Against You
- Self-Help Information Packet for Filing a Small Claims Case
To complete the filing process, a justice court civil information sheet, original small claims petition and a service members civil relief act sec. 201(b) will need be completed, signed and filed with the court. If filing by mail, the service members civil relief act sec. 201(b) signature will need to be notarized.