South Carolina Small Claims Forms - Small Claims Court

South Carolina Small Claims Court FAQ Small Claims South Carolina

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 in South Carolina is a special kind of court where people can go to resolve disputes about money or property that involves relatively small amounts. It is designed to be less formal and more accessible to everyday people who are not familiar with legal procedures. In this court, individuals can represent themselves and present their case without needing a lawyer. The judges in Small Claim Court are trained to help both parties reach a fair resolution. It provides a simpler and less expensive option for people to seek justice and resolve their disagreements without the need for a lengthy and costly process.

Why File a Small Claims Case?

People may file a small claims case in South Carolina for a variety of reasons. One primary reason is to seek justice and resolve disputes when a party feels they have been wronged. It's a straightforward and affordable way to handle legal matters involving small amounts of money, usually under $7,500. Filing a small claims case helps individuals hold others accountable for their actions and can ensure fairness in disputes over things like unpaid debts, property damage, or breach of contract. Overall, it allows people to seek a resolution in a convenient and straightforward manner.

Small Claims Court Limits for Each State

In every state, there is a court called "Small Claims Court" where people can resolve legal disputes involving small amounts of money. Each state has different limits for how much money you can claim in Small Claims Court, and in South Carolina, the limit is $7,500. This means that if you have a problem with someone, and you believe they owe you less than $7,500, you can take them to Small Claims Court to try and get that money back. It's a simpler and less formal court where regular people can represent themselves without needing a lawyer. So, if you're in South Carolina and someone owes you a relatively small amount of money, you can go to Small Claims Court to sort things out and hopefully get the money you're owed!

Small Claims Demand Letter Example

In South Carolina, a small claims demand letter is a document that you can use to formally ask for payment or resolve a dispute with someone. It is a simple and straightforward way to communicate your intentions and explain the issue at hand. For example, if you lent money to someone, and they haven't paid you back, you can write a demand letter explaining the amount owed, when it was due, and why they need to pay you. It's important to use clear and understandable language in a small claims demand letter, so that the recipient can easily understand your position and hopefully take appropriate action.

Filing a Small Claims Case in 5 Steps

Filing a small claims case in South Carolina can be done in 5 simple steps. First, gather all the necessary information and documents related to your case, such as receipts, contracts, or photos. Second, visit the website of the South Carolina Judicial Department to download and complete the appropriate forms for your case. Third, make multiple copies of all the forms and supporting documents, so that you have one for yourself, one for the defendant, and one for the court. Fourth, file the completed forms and documents with the clerk of court in the county where the incident occurred, paying any required filing fees. Finally, make sure to serve the defendant with copies of the court documents, either through certified mail or by hiring a sheriff or process server. By following these steps, you can easily file a small claims case in South Carolina.