Virginia Small Claims Forms - How To File A Small Claims Court

Virginia Small Claims Court FAQ Small Claims

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 place where people can resolve disputes involving smaller amounts of money. It is designed to be a simpler and faster process than traditional courts. In Virginia, a small claims court operates similarly. It helps individuals, businesses, or organizations resolve minor disputes without the need for hiring attorneys or going through lengthy legal procedures. Instead, individuals represent themselves and present their case to a judge, who decides the outcome. The maximum amount of money that can be claimed in Virginia's small claims court is $5,000, making it an accessible and affordable option for seeking justice in smaller financial matters.

Why File a Small Claims Case?

Filing a small claims case in Virginia can be helpful in resolving disputes without having to hire expensive lawyers or endure long and complicated court proceedings. Small claims court is designed for individuals seeking a quick and affordable resolution for disputes involving smaller amounts of money, usually under $5,000. By filing a small claims case, you can present your side of the story to a judge, who will make a fair and impartial decision based on the evidence and arguments presented. It allows you to have greater control over the process as you can present your case in a straightforward manner, without complex legal procedures. Overall, filing a small claims case in Virginia provides a simple and accessible way to address minor legal disputes in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Small Claims Court Limits for Each State

Small Claims Court limits vary from state to state, but in simple terms, they determine the maximum amount of money you can sue for in a Small Claims Court. For example, in Virginia, the limit is $5,000. This means that if you have a dispute or a claim against someone, you can go to Small Claims Court to seek compensation or resolution, but you can only ask for up to $5,000. These limits are put in place to ensure that Small Claims Courts are accessible to people with smaller disputes, allowing them to seek justice without the need for expensive lawyers or complex legal procedures. So, whether you're in Virginia or any other state, it's important to know the Small Claims Court limits before filing a claim.

Small Claims Demand Letter Example

A small claims demand letter is a letter that individuals can use to ask for a resolution in a small claims case. In Virginia, these letters are usually sent before filing a lawsuit. They are written in easy-to-understand language, to explain the dispute and what the debtor owes. The letter will also include a deadline by which the debtor needs to respond or resolve the issue. Sending a demand letter can often lead to a settlement without going to court, saving time and money for both parties involved.

Filing a Small Claims Case in 5 Steps

Filing a small claims case in Virginia can be done in just 5 simple steps. First, gather all the necessary paperwork and evidence to support your claim, such as receipts, contracts, and photographs. Second, identify the appropriate courthouse where you should file your case based on the location and dollar amount of your claim. Third, fill out the small claims' application form accurately and completely, providing details about your claim. Fourth, pay the required filing fee, which is usually a small amount. Finally, make sure to serve the defendant with the necessary court documents, either by using a process server or certified mail. Following these steps will help you start your small claims case successfully in Virginia.