Tennessee Small Claims Forms - Tennessee Small Claims Court Forms

Tennessee Small Claims Court FAQ Tennessee 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 type of court that handles legal disputes involving small amounts of money. In Tennessee, it allows individuals and businesses to resolve their disagreements in a simple and affordable way. Small claims courts generally deal with cases where the amount of money at stake is relatively low. These cases can include personal injuries, property damage, unpaid bills, or issues with products or services. In Tennessee, the maximum amount that can be claimed in small claims court is $25,000, making it suitable for resolving smaller disputes without the need for hiring expensive lawyers or going through complex legal procedures.

Why File a Small Claims Case?

Filing a small claims case in Tennessee can be a helpful solution when you have a dispute with someone, like a neighbor or a business, and you want to resolve it fairly and quickly. By filing a small claims case, you can seek justice and potentially be awarded compensation or have a legal agreement enforced. It's an affordable option for resolving disputes that don't involve large amounts of money, and you don't need a lawyer to represent you. Small claims court is designed to be accessible and user-friendly, allowing individuals to represent themselves and present their case to a judge in a simplified and informal setting. If you want to resolve a dispute in Tennessee without a lot of hassle and costs, filing a small claims case could be a smart choice.

Small Claims Court Limits for Each State

Small Claims Court limits vary from state to state, and in Tennessee, the limit is set at $25,000. This means that if you have a legal dispute and the amount involved is $25,000 or less, you can take it to Small Claims Court. It's an affordable and efficient way to resolve minor legal issues without the need for a lawyer. Small Claims Court allows everyday people to have their voices heard and seek justice for smaller disputes like unpaid bills, property damages, or contract breaches. So, if you find yourself in a situation where you need to resolve a legal matter in Tennessee and the amount involved is $25,000 or less, Small Claims Court could be the right choice for you.

Small Claims Demand Letter Example

If you have a dispute with someone in Tennessee and want to try resolving it before taking legal action, you can send them a small claims demand letter. This is a simple letter that clearly explains your issue and demands a resolution. For example, let's say you bought a defective product from a local store in Tennessee, you can write a demand letter to the store owner. In the letter, you can state what you bought, when you bought it, and the issues you've encountered. You can also mention any attempts you made to resolve the problem directly with the store. Then, you can demand a refund, replacement, or any other fair resolution. A demand letter is a straightforward way to communicate your expectations and give the other party a chance to resolve the matter before going to court.

Filing a Small Claims Case in 5 Steps

Filing a small claims case in Tennessee can be done in 5 steps, and it's not as complicated as it may seem. Firstly, start by gathering all the necessary information and documents related to your case, such as receipts, contracts, and any evidence supporting your claim. Then, you'll need to fill out the appropriate forms provided by the Tennessee court system, which may include a complaint form and a general session civil warrant. Make sure to clearly state your case and the relief you are seeking in these forms. After completing the forms, file them with the clerk of the appropriate Tennessee court, paying any required fees. At this point, you will need to serve the defendant with notice of the lawsuit, which is usually done by certified mail, sheriff's service, or a private process server. Finally, once you have successfully served the defendant, make sure to attend the scheduled court hearing to present your case.