There are many reasons a person in Pennsylvania would need to use the small claims court system. Today, the SMA Law Group wants to give you some information about what small claims are, a general overview of the process, and discuss whether an attorney is necessary in these cases.
What is a “small claim” in Pennsylvania?
The term “small claims” can be a little misleading because many of these cases involve a significant chunk of money. Businesses and individuals involved in legal disputes of less than $12,000 should file their cases in a Pennsylvania small claims court.
The small claims court system is designed to deal with lower dollar amount cases in an “informal, simplified, and streamlined process” that cuts down on time and costs for all parties involved.
An attorney is not necessary for a small claims court case, though either a plaintiff or defendant may have one if they so choose. There is a filing fee that ranges from $40 to $80, depending on the amount in dispute in the case.
What are some common small claims court cases?
Some of the most common types of small claims cases in Pennsylvania include:
- Personal injury
- Product liability
- Professional malpractice
- Property damage
- Libel or slander
- Failing to return security deposit
- Breach of contract
- Breach of warranty
- Bad debt
You will notice that some of the issues above commonly deal with amounts well over the small claims limit. Be sure to properly calculate your total economic and non-economic damages with an attorney in order to be sure you are asking for a fair compensation.
Why would you need an attorney for your small claims case?
You have the choice about whether or not you want an attorney to help with your case. If the other side has an attorney, you should strongly consider one as well.
You need to consider the pros and cons of having an attorney. Certainly, a qualified legal representative will strengthen your case, but you also have to pay an attorney. This may be worth it if your case is $11,000 and total legal fees are $1,000. For that, you would come out $10,000 on the plus side.
However, if your small claims case is only worth $1,000 and the legal fees will be around that amount, would it be worth having an attorney?
Your best option is to secure a free consultation with a trusted attorney so you can plan appropriately before walking into the courtroom.
Can I move the case out of small claims court?
Either party in a small claims court case can request a jury trial and have the case transferred to the district justice court. Certain jurisdictions in PA may not allow jury trials for small claims cases except on appeal.
If you have a question about your small claims case, please seek legal assistance. At the SMA Law Group, we are ready to help. You can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or calling 1-888-976-2529.