Georgia Small Claims Forms - How To File A Small Claims Court

Georgia Small Claims Court FAQ Small Claims Court Georgia

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 type of court where people can resolve legal disputes involving smaller amounts of money, usually less than a certain limit set by the state. In Georgia, a small claims court is also known as Magistrate Court. It provides a simplified and informal process to resolve disagreements quickly and inexpensively. It is designed to handle cases like unpaid rent, property damage, small loans, and other minor legal issues. Unlike regular courts, small claims court does not require lawyers, and the rules and procedures are less complicated, making it accessible to individuals who want to represent themselves.

Why File a Small Claims Case?

There are a few reasons why someone might choose to file a small claims case in Georgia. One big reason is that it allows individuals to seek justice and resolve disputes without needing a lawyer or going through a complicated legal process. Small claims cases are designed to be more informal and accessible, making it easier for regular people to navigate. If you've been wronged or suffered a financial loss, filing a small claims case can provide a fair chance of getting compensated. It's also more cost-effective than hiring a lawyer for a larger lawsuit, making it a popular choice for individuals seeking justice on a smaller scale.

Small Claims Court Limits for Each State

Each state in the United States has its own limits for small claims court cases. These limits vary depending on where you live. In Georgia, the limit for small claims court cases is $15,000. This means that if you have a dispute or a problem that involves a sum of money of $15,000 or less, you can file a case in the small claims court. This court is designed to handle smaller disputes in a quicker and more informal manner than a regular court. It's helpful to know the small claims court limit in your state, as it can determine where you should turn to for legal assistance.

Small Claims Demand Letter Example

A small claims demand letter is a written document used to demand payment or resolution for a small dispute or claim. In Georgia, this letter is typically sent before taking legal action in small claims court. It's like a formal way of telling the other person what they owe you or what you want them to do to resolve the issue. The letter should clearly explain the problem and the amount of money you're seeking. It's important to include relevant facts, dates, and any supporting documents. By sending a demand letter, you give the other party a chance to settle the matter before going to court.

Filing a Small Claims Case in 5 Steps

Filing a small claims case in Georgia is a straightforward process that includes five simple steps. First, you need to gather all necessary documents and evidence related to your case, such as receipts, contracts, or photos. Step two is to complete the necessary paperwork, also known as a "complaint," which outlines the details of your claim. Next, you must file the complaint with the small claims court in the county where the defendant resides or where the issue arose. Once filed, you will need to serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint, which is step four. This can be done by a sheriff, private process server, or certified mail. Finally, step five involves preparing for your court hearing by organizing your arguments, witnesses, and any additional evidence that supports your claim. By following these steps, you can confidently navigate the small claims process in Georgia and seek resolution in a fair and accessible manner.