North Carolina Small Claims Forms - Small Claims Court

North Carolina Small Claims Court FAQ Nc Small Claims 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 special court that deals with minor legal disputes between individuals or businesses. In North Carolina, it is a type of court where people can resolve small disagreements about money or property without hiring a lawyer or going through a complex legal process. It is designed to be simple and accessible, so anyone can present their case in a fair and straightforward way. Small claims are usually for smaller amounts of money, typically up to $10,000, and the court is meant to provide a quick and inexpensive way to settle these disputes.

Why File a Small Claims Case?

Filing a small claims case can be a good idea in North Carolina because it provides an accessible way for individuals to resolve disputes without needing to hire expensive lawyers or go through complex legal procedures. Small claims courts are designed to handle cases involving smaller amounts of money or property, making it suitable for disputes involving things like unpaid rent, property damage, or unpaid debts. By filing a small claims case, you have the opportunity to present your side of the story and seek a resolution or compensation for the harm or loss you have suffered. It can be especially beneficial in North Carolina, where the small claims process is straightforward and focuses on fairness and justice for all parties involved.

Small Claims Court Limits for Each State

Small claims court limits vary in each state, including North Carolina. "Small claims court limits" are the maximum amount of money you can file a lawsuit for in a small claims court. In North Carolina, the small claims court limit is usually $10,000, which means that if you have a dispute involving money or property valued at $10,000 or less, you can file a lawsuit in small claims court. It's important to note that these limits are set by each state and can differ, so you should check your local jurisdiction to find the specific small claims court limit that applies to you.

Small Claims Demand Letter Example

In North Carolina, a small claims demand letter is a written document that a person uses to ask for payment or resolution of a dispute in a small claims court. It's like a friendly reminder to the other party, explaining what they owe and why. The letter should be written in simple and clear words that any person can understand, without using complicated legal jargon. A small claims demand letter is a way to communicate with the other party before going to court, allowing them a chance to respond and possibly settle the matter without the need for a formal lawsuit.

Filing a Small Claims Case in 5 Steps

Filing a small claims case in North Carolina can be broken down into five simple steps. First, gather all the necessary information and evidence related to your case. This includes documents, photos, and any relevant details that support your claim. Next, identify the appropriate court where you need to file your case. This will most likely be the small claims court in the county where the defendant lives or where the incident occurred. Then, complete the required forms, including a complaint form that outlines the details of your case. Make sure to provide clear and concise information to support your claim. Once you have completed the forms, submit them to the court clerk along with the required filing fee. Finally, serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint and a summons, notifying them about the legal action against them. This can be done by mail, a process server, or a sheriff's deputy. Following these simple steps will help you navigate the process of filing a small claims case in North Carolina.