Small Claims Court – What is it and do you need a lawyer?

Many times I get a call that goes something like this: I lent $2,000 to a friend, and he is refusing to pay me back. I want to hire you to sue him. Or: A plumber was at my house to fix something and ended up making it worse, and now the new plumber said that it will cost an additional $800 to fix it. I want to hire you to sue him.

Small claims courts have been set up to handle cases where the amount in controversy is equal to or less than $5,000. Small Claims Court | Almanza Law LLCSmall claims courts do not have the same formalities as the district courts. In fact, many times there is no actual courtroom – just an office-like setting where the parties sit down with the judge and each explain their side of the story. Most small claims courts actually encourage people to go through the process without an attorney. To this end, they usually have all the forms you need on their websites along with other helpful information.

Back to those calls I get sometimes. My solution for these calls is simple, but I first have to explain why I can’t take the case like a normal lawsuit where I get paid a percentage of the recovery – it is just not cost effective for any attorney to agree to be paid 33% of such a small amount ($266 in the second example).

So what is my advice? Let’s say that you call me with a similar problem. WeSmall Claims Court | Almanza Law LLC would work out what is called a “Limited Representation Agreement.” You will be representing yourself with my legal advice and guidance. I will write a demand letter to the opposing party to try to resolve the problem before filing a lawsuit. If that fails, we will fill out all the forms together and you will sign them. I will then instruct you where and how to properly file the petition and ensure that proper service is made on the opposing party. After that, I make myself available to assist you until the case is finished.

Here are some helpful links pertaining to the small claims courts in this area:

Baton Rouge Small Claims

New Orleans Small Claims

Jefferson Parish Small Claims

Slidell Small Claims

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