Small Claims Court

The Small Claims Courts were created so that you would have a speedy, reasonably inexpensive and uncomplicated means of settling disputes and disagreements.  You may represent yourself without an attorney.  Courts are for your benefit.  It is your right to make use of the courts to peacefully settle your disputes.  

The procedures are not complex or particularly complicated.  The Plaintiff fills out a form stating why the Plaintiff believes the Defendant owes him/her money or that the Defendant has property which should be returned to the Plaintiff.  Each party will explain his or her side of the story to the Judge at trial.  

While Small Claims Courts have simple rules of procedure, it takes more than just filing out a simple form and showing up in court.   The Judge’s decision will be based on the evidence presented by the parties during the trial and in applying the appropriate law to the facts proven.

A good case can be lost if you do not prepare your case before the trial or if you fail to effectively present your evidence at the trial.  Proper preparation and effective presentation of your evidence greatly increase your chances of success in Small Claims Court, either as a plaintiff or a defendant.

You may hire an attorney if you want but you do not have to hire an attorney.  In most cases, you will not be able to get the other party to pay your attorney fees even if you win.  You can only recover your attorney fees if there is a written agreement making the other party responsible for paying your attorney fees, if a statute or law provides that you are entitled to recover attorney fees or if the Judge determines the claim or defense was frivolous.

For more information, see the Tippecanoe County Small Claims Manual.  Here is the link to the Small Claims Manual.