Alabama Small Claims Forms - Alabama Small Claims Court Forms

Alabama Small Claims Court FAQ Alabama Small Claim Court

Who hears the claims in small claims court?

In small claims court, the trial is an informal hearing before a judge. There is no jury and the plaintiff presents his or her evidence and witnesses. The defendant is also responsible for presenting his or her witnesses. After hearing both sides of the dispute, the judge will render a verdict based on the law and the facts presented.

Who may file a claim in small claims court?  An individual, partnership or corporation (or LLC) may file a claim against another individual(s), partnership or corporation (LLC) in small claims court, if jurisdiction exists to hear the claim, if the amount of the claim does not exceed the statutory limits.

What must I do before I file a claim?  Before you file a claim, get the facts straight so you can complete the forms correctly and answer any questions court personnel may need to know. Be sure to obtain the correct legal name of the defendant, correct address and place/address of employment. If the defendant is a corporation or LLC you would use the legal corporate or LLC name as the defendant. 

How do I file a claim?  The plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney should go to the small claims division of the district court in the particular county where the person or business to be sued has an office or is domiciled and file a Statement of  Claim Form. The plaintiff is responsible for furnishing the court with the correct and complete address of the defendant. The clerk will assign the plaintiff a case number and this number must be used whenever contacting the court concerning the particular case. A filing fee is required at the time the claim is filed. If the plaintiff cannot afford to prepay the fee at the time of the filing, he or she can submit an Affidavit of Substantial Hardship and request that the judge delay the payment. 

Who serves the defendant with summons or process and how is the defendant served?  The clerk of the court will issue a summons ordering the defendant to appear in court. The summons and the complaint must be served on the defendant. The summons and the complaint may be served by certified or registered mail. If the court provides this service, there may be an additional fee. If the defendant cannot be served using these methods, the precinct constable or any registered private process server will serve the summons and complaint for a fee. 

How are hearings scheduled? The clerk of the court will provide you with the procedure to set the case for trial or hearing at the time you file your claim. 

May I subpoena witnesses? If witnesses are required, but unwilling to attend the hearing unless they are subpoenaed, you may obtain a subpoena issued by the court clerk for service on the witness. The subpoena is an order for the witness to appear at the hearing to testify. Some employer may require that an employee be subpoenaed in order to be excused from work. 

What are the trial procedures? The trial procedure is generally more informal than other courts. The case will usually be called in open court and you will respond that you are present and ready to proceed. You will then be advised when to present your claim. Be prepared to present your claim in your own words. Be prepared to question witnesses if witnesses are needed. 

What happens if the defendant does not appear at trial?  If the defendant does not appear at trial, a default judgment will be entered in the plaintiff's favor for the amount of the claim or other relief. After judgment is obtained and the appeal time has expired, the plaintiff may seek to collect the judgment by acceptable means of collection. 

What are the common forms used in small claims court?  Common forms used in small claims court are:

  • Claim Statement/Complaint
  • Summons
  • Return of Summons
  • Answer
  • Subpoena
  • Abstract of Judgment

What Is a Small Claims Court?

A small claims court is a place where people can resolve legal disputes in a simple and straightforward manner. It is designed for cases involving small amounts of money, usually under a certain limit set by the state. In Alabama, a small claims court is also known as the Small Claims Division of the District Court. It allows individuals to bring cases against others to seek compensation or resolve disagreements without the need for formal lawyers or complicated legal procedures. The goal of small claims court is to make the legal process more accessible and affordable for everyday people.

Why File a Small Claims Case?

Filing a small claims case in Alabama can be worth it for certain reasons. Firstly, it allows individuals to seek justice and resolve minor legal disputes in a simple and cost-effective manner. You don't need a lawyer, and the court process is generally less formal than higher courts. Secondly, small claims cases can help people recover money owed to them or receive compensation for damages caused. If someone owes you money or has damaged your property, it's a way to hold them accountable and potentially get some resolution. So, filing a small claims case in Alabama can provide a straightforward and accessible route for seeking redress in various legal matters.

Small Claims Court Limits for Each State

In every state, there are limits on the amount of money that can be claimed in small claims court. This means that if you want to file a lawsuit in small claims court, you can only ask for a certain maximum amount, which varies from state to state. For instance, in Alabama, the limit for small claims court cases is $6,000. This means that if you have a dispute with someone, and you believe they owe you money or caused damage worth less than $6,000, you can take them to small claims court to try to resolve the issue. It's important to know these limits because they determine whether your case can be heard in small claims court or if you need to file a lawsuit in a different court that handles larger claims.

Small Claims Demand Letter Example

A small claims demand letter is a formal written document that an individual in Alabama can send to another party to try and resolve a dispute without going to court. It is a way to assert your rights and request compensation in a clear and respectful manner. For example, if you loaned money to someone in Alabama, and they have not repaid you, you can send a small claims demand letter asking for the money owed. In the letter, you should clearly state what you are owed, why you believe you are entitled to the money, and provide a deadline for payment before considering legal action. It is important to use simple language and state phrases to ensure the recipient understands your intentions and the seriousness of the matter.

Filing a Small Claims Case in 5 Steps

Filing a small claims case in Alabama can be done in 5 simple steps. First, gather all the necessary information and evidence related to your case. This includes documents, receipts, and any other relevant evidence proving your claim. Second, identify the appropriate court where you will file your case. In Alabama, small claims cases are generally filed in the district or municipal court where the defendant resides. Next, complete the required forms to initiate your case. These forms can usually be obtained from the clerk's office or online. Fourth, file your completed forms with the court and pay the necessary filing fees. Lastly, serve the defendant with a copy of the filed forms to ensure they are aware of the case and have the opportunity to respond. By following these steps, you can successfully file a small claims case in Alabama.