An Introduction to Small Claims Court

Litigation is not always complex issues with big payouts for the winning party. There are civil actions where the issue does not exceed $5,000 (exclusive of costs, interest, and attorney’s fees), known as Small Claims Court.

The most common types of cases in small claims courts are:

  • Personal Injury Cases
  • Breach of Contract Cases
  • Open Account Cases
  • Account Stated Cases

There are different rules for small claims and can be The Florida Small Claims Rules are more lax and different than the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”), which can be found here. In regard to discovery, any party represented by an attorney is subject to discovery pursuant to FRCP directed at said party, without an order of the court. If a party proceeding without an attorney directs discovery to a party represented by an attorney, the represented party may also use discovery pursuant to FRCP without leave of court. When a party is unrepresented and has not initiated discovery, the opposing party will not be entitled to initiate discovery without leave of court.

Also in Small Claims Court, service can be perfected by individual, substitute, or constructive. Service by certified mail is also allowed, and the refusal to accept certified mail can be considered effective service, however, service of process cannot be made outside of the state of Florida by use of the U.S. mail.

Once the small claims case is filed, the court sets a pretrial conference, where the court will consider:

  • Simplification of issues
  • Amendments
  • The possibility of obtaining admissions of facts and of documents
  • Possibility of Settlements
  • Limitation on the number of witnesses

Defense pleadings are not required before the pretrial conference unless the court orders such. All parties must attend the pretrial conference or the parties can file a motion called a “Stipulation of Waiver of Appearance at Pretrial Conference and Order on Pretrial Conference.”

In Small Claims cases, if there is no triable issue, the court will summarily enter an appropriate “Order of Judgment” without a written motion, and this motion can be made at trial. Also, crossclaims are not allowed in Small Claims cases, only third-party claims and counterclaims are allowed.

Small Claims trials are usually bench trials, but jury trials are allowed upon written demand by the plaintiff at the time the suit begins, or by the defendant within 5 days after service of notice of suit or at the pretrial conference.

Small Claims cases are usually resolved within 95 days from the date of filing. The court will set the case for trial within 60 days after the pretrial conference, but parties may agree to an extension of time for the trial.

You should always consult an attorney if you feel as though you have reason to. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you if you have any questions. You can call us at (786) 837-6787 or email us at info@epgdlaw.com.

*Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*