The purpose of small-claims court is for the public to be able to settle small disputes without expensive court costs, lengthy court procedures, or hiring a lawyer. Individuals who seek a security deposit from their landlord, or a refund for poor work from a mechanic, and similar matters can go to small-claims court to try and win the money they believe they deserve. In North Carolina, you cannot sue anyone for more than $10,000 in small-claims court.
There are several steps involved when suing in small-claims court. You must be well-prepared to help avoid complications and issues with your case. Here are the steps you should take when suing in small-claims court in North Carolina:
- Complete necessary paperwork. When filing suit in small-claims court, there are certain documents you must obtain and fill out along with fees you must pay. This paperwork includes the name and address of the person you are suing, the reason you are suing them, the date of the claim, and the amount you wish to obtain. Check with the small-claims court or ask an attorney to see what forms you need to complete. Generally, you (the plaintiff) must file your claim in the county where the defendant resides.
- File and prepare for court. Once your complaint has been filed and the defendant notified that they must appear in court, you need to carefully prepare what you will say in court. The proper preparation is a key factor in having a successful small claims court case:
- Write a powerful statement that explains why you should receive reimbursement from the defendant
- Gather proper supporting documents to prove your case, such as contracts, photos, credit card statements, correspondence, etc.
- Select reliable and relevant witnesses
- Determine the order you will present your evidence
- Prepare and practice your court presentation
- Court Judgment. The court judgment will be mailed to you. If you win your court case, the defendant is required to pay you whatever the judge decided upon in the final judgment. If you do not receive your money, you can seek an attorney to legal action outside of small-claims court.
Learn more about legal resources in North Carolina.