Texas Small Claims Forms - Small Claims Court

Texas Small Claims Court FAQ Small Claims Court Texas

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 kind of court where people can resolve their legal disputes quickly and without spending a lot of money. In Texas, a small claims court is also called a justice court. It is designed to handle small-scale financial disagreements or disagreements about property damage, usually involving amounts less than a certain limit set by the state. These courts offer a simplified process, with hearings that are less formal, allowing individuals to represent themselves without needing a lawyer. The judge makes a decision based on the evidence presented by both parties, and the purpose is to provide a fair and accessible way to resolve small disputes.

Why File a Small Claims Case?

Filing a small claims case can be a useful option when you have a dispute or disagreement with someone and want to seek a resolution. In Texas, small claims cases can be an effective way to address legal matters that involve relatively small amounts of money or property. It's important to file a small claims case in Texas because it allows individuals to bring their case to court without hiring an attorney, which can save time and money. The process in Texas is designed to be less formal and more accessible for individuals who are not familiar with legal procedures. By filing a small claims case in Texas, you have the opportunity to present your side of the story and potentially receive a fair judgment or resolution.

Small Claims Court Limits for Each State

Small Claims Court limits vary from state to state, including in Texas. These limits determine the maximum amount of money that can be claimed in a small claims court case. In simple terms, small claims court is like a people's court where individuals can resolve disputes without hiring expensive lawyers. Each state has its own specific limit, which is usually a few thousand dollars. In Texas, for example, the current small claims court limit is $10,000. This means that if you have a dispute and the amount of money you're claiming is less than or equal to $10,000, you can file a case in small claims court to seek resolution. By using these simple human words and phrases, the information about small claims court limits is easier to understand for everyone.

Small Claims Demand Letter Example

A small claims demand letter in Texas is a simple and straightforward way for individuals to seek resolution for a dispute. This letter outlines the problem and what the sender expects as a solution. For instance, if you borrowed money from a friend and failed to pay it back, they can write a demand letter asking you to repay the debt within a specific timeframe. Texas law requires the letter to be clear and concise, specifying the amount owed and the deadline for payment. It is essential to provide accurate and detailed information in the letter to increase the chances of resolving the issue without going to court.

Filing a Small Claims Case in 5 Steps

Filing a small claims case in 5 steps in Texas is a straightforward process. First, gather all relevant documentation, such as receipts, contracts, or photographs, to support your case. Next, visit your county's small claims court website to find the necessary forms or visit the court in person to request them. Fill out these forms completely, including details about the dispute, contact information, and desired outcome. Once completed, make several copies of the forms and submit them to the court clerk along with the required filing fee. Finally, ensure that the defendant is properly served with a copy of the claim and court date. Following these steps will help you navigate the small claims process in Texas successfully.