A Small Claims Case is a legal action filed in County Court to settle minor legal disputes among parties where the damages or value of the property does not exceed $5,000.00, excluding costs, interest, and attorney fees.
Any person(s) 18 years of age or older, or any individual(s) doing business as a company may file a Small Claims Case. A parent or guardian may file a claim on behalf of a minor child. Each person who is a party to the claim must appear at the Clerk's office to sign the necessary paperwork in the presence of a deputy clerk, or if signed outside the Clerk's office, the signatures must be notarized.
An attorney is not required in Small Claims Cases; however, you or your attorney must appear at the hearings.
Forms for filing a Small Claims Case are available at the Clerk's office.
Filing fees for small claims actions are determined by Florida Statutes and Gilchrist County Ordinances, and are subject to change. Fees vary in accordance with the dollar amount of your claim and the type of action being filed. Fees for service on the parties you are suing are also required and are dependent on the type of service you select. A current schedule of service charges/fees is available in the Clerk's office.
It is important that you file your claim against the correct party. The additional time you spend researching the correct name could make a difference in whether you are able to collect, should a judgment be entered by the court in your favor.
Copies of any contracts, notes, leases, receipts, or other evidence you may have in support of your claim must be furnished for each person named in the claim, as well as, the court.
You must have the defendant(s) complete name and street address (do not use a post office box unless you are serving by registered mail). If you are suing an individual, doing business as, you will need that person's name and the business' name. For example: John Doe, DBA, Poor Boy's Roofing. If you are suing a business or a corporation you will need the name of the corporation, as well as, the name of the president, vice president, or registered agent for that corporation. For example: Poor Boy's Roofing, Inc. by serving John Doe, President. This information may be acquired by calling the Secretary of State Corporate Filing Division, Tallahassee, Florida at (386) 488-9000.
After you file your Small Claims Case, each person or business you are suing must be served with a summons to appear in court on the date and time scheduled. This court date will be a pre-trial conference. The parties will meet with a trained mediator and try to resolve their differences. If this is not possible, then a final hearing will be scheduled. At the final hearing you will have an opportunity to explain your case to the judge, ask the person(s) you are suing any questions concerning your claim, present your documentation as discussed at the pre-trial conference, and call on any witnesses you have to help explain your case.
A trial by jury may be requested by the person(s) filing the Small Claims Case upon written demand at the time the case if filed. The defendant may request a jury trial within five days after service of notice or at the pre-trial conference.
If at any time in the proceedings a settlement is reached between the parties, the plaintiff must notify the Clerk of Circuit Court's office in writing of the settlement.
The court does not collect money damages for you. You may wish to consult an attorney for advice on how to collect your judgment.
If you choose to place a lien against any individually owned real property of the defendant, following the award of a judgment in your favor, you may have a certified copy of your judgment recorded in the Circuit Court Recording Department. Fees for recording are set by statute and are subject to change by legislative action. Contact the Clerk's office for current fees.
The information contained in our brochure for filing a Small Claims Case is intended only as a guide to assist you with the basic facts of filing a claim. If you should need further information, you must contact an attorney or use the law library for research.
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