When parties are unable to settle their disagreements or personal injury claims out of court, they may consider filing the claim in small claims court. There are certain requisites and guidelines regarding taking someone to small claims court of which plaintiffs should be aware.
Important Facts about Small Claims Court
Small claims courts are relatively informal and usually heard and settled quickly. In Denver, Colorado, you can only bring a personal injury claim to small claims court if the damages are valued at less than $7,500.
Both individuals and businesses can sue or be sued in small claims court. If injured because of someone else’s negligence and the defendant and/or the insurance company refuses to provide fair restitution, you can prepare a personal injury claim and take them to court. Be mindful that there is a two-year statute of limitations on when you can file your claim, so avoid needless procrastination.
Attorneys are not allowed in small claims court unless an attorney is a full-time employee of an entity that is brining the claim or defending it. Attorneys who are officers or active members of corporations or associations may also appear in small claims court, though if an attorney does appear, the other side can bring representation, too.
General Procedures for Filing a Claim
To file a claim in small claims court, this is the general procedure the courts require:
- Request and complete the proper paperwork to take someone to small claims court (Notice, Claim, and Summons to Appear form).
- Return the form to the Clerk and pay the filing fee. The clerk will put your case on the calendar and give you your scheduled court date.
- Serve the notice to the other party at least 15 days prior to the trial.
- Present your case in court, where the judge or commissioner will determine the outcome.
Preparing a Personal Injury Claim for Court
For a personal injury claim, pertinent information you might need:
- medical records;
- medication receipts;
- injury journal;
- doctor’s notes;
- photos of the incident or injury;
- proof of missed time from work;
- paystubs; and
- witness testimonies.
Carefully prepare your statement and rehearse what you’re going to say. You’ll want it to be accurate and succinct. Most small claims courts have rules that emphasize timeliness, so try to be brief.
And although it seems difficult, try to be calm, as well. Going into a courtroom is nerve-racking in and of itself; representing yourself can exacerbate your anxiety. While your attorney cannot enter the courtroom, it is still beneficial to go over the legal options available with an attorney.
A Denver Personal Injury Attorney Can Help You Prep
Sometimes it’s not financially feasible to have an attorney represent you in court because of the claim’s minimal value. However, consulting with a lawyer prior to filing a claim in small claims court can help you better prepare.
Contact Denver personal injury lawyer D.J. Banovitz for your specific legal questions. For a consultation, call us today at 303-300-5060. And request a copy of our free guide, 7 Costly Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Colorado Injury Case.