Frequently Asked Questions about Small Claims Court
(View Small Claims
What is a small claims case?
of Court that govern Small claims cases)
A small claims case is a legal action filed in county court to settle
minor legal disputes among parties where the dollar amount involved is
$5,000.00 or less, excluding costs, interest and attorney fees. The
Florida Bar has more information;
The Who, What, Where and Why of Collection Lawsuits.
Do I need a lawyer:
No, it is not necessary to have a lawyer. Small Claims Court is considered
a "peoples court" and a lawyer is not required. Clerk's Office personnel
will provide you with the necessary forms for filing a small claims
Who can file a small claims case?
Any person(s) eighteen (18) years or older or any individual(s) doing
business as a company may file a small claims case. A parent or guardian
may file on behalf of a minor child. Each person who is a party to the
claim must appear at the Clerk's Office to sign the necessary paperwork in
the presence of a deputy clerk, or the signatures must be notarized.
What does it cost to file a small claims case?
Filing fees for small claims actions are determined by Florida Statutes
and are subject to change by legislative action. Fees also vary in
accordance with the dollar amount of your claim and the type of action.
Other fees are required for service on the parties you are suing and
are dependent on the type of service you select.
A current Schedule
of Service Charges is available in any Clerk's Office for your
What information do I need to file a small claims case?
It is important that you file your claim against the right party. The
additional time you spend researching the current name could make a
difference in whether you are able to collect should a judgment be entered
by the court in your favor.
The plaintiff is the party bringing the lawsuit. You must give the
- Individual (over 18, or parent must bring the suit) - your full
name, address, and phone number.
- Partnership - each partner's full name and business name, address
and phone number.
- Corporation - full legal name and d/b/a (if any), registered agent
or president's name.
Information for partnerships and corporations may be found by checking
occupational licenses in the county or city where the business is located,
or through the Secretary of State, Corporation Information Division,
Tallahassee, FL (850) 488-9000.
Are there other requirements?
Any time you sue someone other than an individual, there is additional
information needed to complete the necessary forms. (Small
For example, are you suing an individual doing business as a company, a
partnership where there are several people doing business as a company, a
corporation and are they incorporated, or an insurance company? It is
important for you to research this information carefully.
STATEMENT OF CLAIM
form must be typed or printed with a ballpoint pen to ensure legibility on
You must provide a
copy for filing AND a copy of any supporting documents for EACH
defendant you are naming.
What happens after I file my small claims case?
After you file your small claims case, each person or business you are
suing must be served with a Summons or Notice to appear in court on the
date and time scheduled when you filed your claim. This court date will be
a pre-trial conference.
At the pretrial conference mediation is ordered if both parties
to the dispute are present and unable to settle their dispute. A mediator
acts to encourage and facilitate the resolution of a dispute between two
or more parties. It is an informal and non-adversarial process with the
objective of helping the disputing parties reach a mutually acceptable and
voluntary agreement. In mediation, decision-making authority rests with
If the dispute cannot be settled, a trial date will be scheduled by the
court for your case to be heard. You must appear at the trial with all
witnesses and documentation of your claim.
At the trial you will have an opportunity to explain your case to the
judge, ask the person(s) you are suing any questions concerning your
claim, present your documentation and call on your witnesses to help
explain your case.
Why use mediation?
The judge will require mediation because: mediation is economical.
Settlement is viewed as fair by both parties. There is one
court meeting. You do not need to subpoena witnesses or evidence and
depend on their presence at trial. You do not have to conduct extensive
trial preparation. Mediation preserves personal and business
relationships. It allows debtors to arrange repayment plans; avoid a
judgment, and preserve credit reputation. Mediation protects privacy and
avoids the publicity of a trial. Both parties remain in control and
participate in a "win-win" solution. The agreement is final
and the dispute resolved.
Can I have a jury trial on my small claims case?
Yes, a trial by jury may be requested by the person(s) filing the small
claims case [plaintiff(s)] upon written demand at the time the case is
filed. Someone being filed against [defendant] may request a jury trial
within five days after service of Notice or at the pre-trial conference.
What happens to my case if a settlement is reached?
If, at any time in the proceedings a settlement is reached between the
parties, the plaintiff [person(s) who filed suit] must notify the Clerk of
the County Court's Office in writing of the settlement.
How can I collect my judgment?
The court does not collect money damages for you. You may wish to consult
with an attorney for advice on how to collect your judgment. (Methods
of Collecting Judgments)
Can I file a lien against the defendant's property?
If you choose to place a judgment lien against any individually owned real
property of the defendant's following the award of a judgment in your
favors, you should obtain a certified copy of your judgment and have it
recorded in the official records at the Clerk's Recording Division. Fees
for recording are set by statute and are subject to change by legislative
action. Contact the Clerk's Office for current fees.