SMALL CLAIMS COURT PRIMER
You have a potential lawsuit. You can't get an attorney to take it for you. What can you do? File it in Small Claims Court. In Small Claims Court, you do not need a lawyer and the judge, who will be the Justice of the Peace, may not be a lawyer either. He or she will, however, probably give you fair trial based equity and the law. In Small Claims Court, you could see the Defendant with an attorney, but don't fear, if you somehow lose, you can automatically appeal to the County Court and you might be able to get a lawyer then.
In Texas, a small claims action can be filed for anything up to $10,000. Anything more than $10,000 must be filed in a County Court or District Court.
But where do you file your Small Claims Court action? You should file your claim at the Justice of the Peace Court where the Defendant lives or operates his or her business. If it is a large corporation and they do business in every county, say like a Home Depot or the like, you can just file where your particular JP is located.
It usually costs around $30 to file your case and another $75 to serve the Defendant. If you sue more than one Defendant, it will cost you an additional $75 for each Defendant.
If you win, you will get a judgment in your favor that can be executed, a legal term for enforced, on the defendant.
If you lose, you can appeal if you do so within 10 days of the judge?s decision to a County Court and the whole process or trial begins again from the beginning. You should note that if you win in Small Claims Court, the Defendant can also appeal under these same guidelines.