Louisiana Small Claims Forms - Louisiana Small Claims Court Forms

Louisiana Small Claims Court FAQ Small Claims Court New Orleans

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 special court where people can settle legal disputes in a simple and affordable way. It is designed for people who have smaller claims, usually involving amounts of money up to a certain limit. In Louisiana, the small claims court is called the Justice of the Peace Court. It helps people resolve disputes such as unpaid bills, damaged property, or breaches of contract. It is a less formal court than other courts, and lawyers usually aren't needed. Instead, people can present their cases directly to the judge and explain their side of the story. The judge will then make a decision based on the evidence and facts presented. Small claims court provides a way for people to seek justice without the expensive and complicated procedures of regular courts.

Why File a Small Claims Case?

There are several reasons why someone might choose to file a small claims case in Louisiana. One main reason is to resolve a dispute or disagreement in a more straightforward and affordable manner. Small claims courts in Louisiana handle cases involving smaller amounts of money, typically less than $5,000. By filing a small claims case, individuals can avoid the complexities and expenses associated with higher courts. This option allows people to represent themselves without the need for an attorney. Small claims cases in Louisiana offer a quicker resolution, saving time and effort for everyone involved.

Small Claims Court Limits for Each State

Small claims courts in each state have different limits that determine the maximum amount of money one can sue for in a small claims case. In simple terms, these limits are like a cap on the amount of money a person can ask for during their court case for a dispute they have. For example, if you live in California, the limit is $10,000, meaning you can only ask for up to $10,000 in damages during your case. However, in Louisiana, the limit is a bit different. In Louisiana, small claims courts allow you to sue for up to $5,000 only. This means that if you are involved in a dispute in Louisiana's small claims court, the maximum amount of money you can seek to recover or claim is $5,000.

Small Claims Demand Letter Example

In Louisiana, if you find yourself in a dispute with someone and want to collect money that is owed to you, you can consider sending a Small Claims Demand Letter. This type of letter is a formal request for payment that you can send to the person you are in a disagreement with. It's important to keep the letter simple and clear, using everyday language that everyone can understand. You should include specific details about the dispute, the amount owed, and a deadline for the person to pay. Remember to be polite but firm in your tone, and make sure to keep a copy of the letter for your records. Sending a Small Claims Demand Letter can serve as a first step towards resolving the issue without having to go to court.

Filing a Small Claims Case in 5 Steps

Filing a small claims case in Louisiana can be done in 5 simple steps. Firstly, ensure that your case is eligible for small claims court, which typically involves disputes involving a limited amount of money. Next, gather all necessary documents and evidence to support your claim. This may include contracts, receipts, photos, or any other relevant information. Step three involves identifying the correct courthouse and filling out the necessary forms, such as a complaint form, available at the clerk's office. After completing the forms, file them with the clerk and pay the required filing fee. Lastly, you must serve the defendant with notice of the case, either through certified mail or by hiring a process server. Following these steps will set your small claims case in motion and give you an opportunity to seek justice and resolve your dispute.