If you’re having trouble collecting money from someone, consider using the court system.
You will need
- Court forms
- Information and evidence
- Preparation skills
- Knowledge of court etiquette
Step 1 Fill out the proper form Fill out the proper form. Forms vary from state by state, so inquire at your local court.
Step 2 Wait on the defendant’s response Wait on the defendant’s response. The defendant is the person you’re suing, and they may have up to 30 days to respond.
Step 3 Anticipate a response Anticipate a response. You, the plaintiff, may receive payment from the defendant and can fill out a dismissal form to end the proceedings – but if not, forge ahead.
Step 4 Prepare your case Prepare your case. Gather your information and evidence.
Step 5 Practice what you'll say Practice what you’ll say. Clearly and concisely, state what the problem is and how much you are requesting, including any court costs.
Step 6 Brush up on court etiquette Brush up on court etiquette. Remember to address the judge as “your honor,” dress appropriately, and stand when you present your case – and don’t address the defendant directly.
Step 7 Be confident Be confident. You can now present your case in the best way possible.
In small claims court, you’re only awarded money. So if you need help with other matters, ask the clerk to point you to the right court.
Step 8 Be tenacious Be tenacious. If the defendant doesn’t pay within the allotted time period, you may need a lawyer’s assistance – the court will not actually collect any money owed you.
Did You Know:
Did you know? In 2002, New Yorker Caesar Barber filed a lawsuit against several fast food restaurants, blaming them for causing his obesity. The lawsuit never made it to court.