How to Sue in Small Claims Court

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
  • Confidence
  • Tenacity

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.

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.