Small Claims Court. So, do I need a lawyer to sue this guy?

The muscles cringe, the strain sets in, and the resentment, scorn, and frustration boil over whenever someone hears this answer from a lawyer to what seems like a simple question:  “Maybe.”

You can go it alone, or bring a lawyer.

But, believe me, the lawyer is not trying to get you to pull your hair out.  The quick answer is “yes,” anyone can represent themselves in Small Claims Court.  However, going it alone might be the worst decision depending on the circumstances you are facing.   For instance, who is going to be on the other side of the battle?  If you sue a person or company that shows up with a lawyer, then you’re likely outmatched.  It may have nothing to do with the merits of your case.  The truth will prevail, but you have to play by a set of rules in order to properly present that proof to the judge.  This is where the professional guidance of an attorney can make all the difference.  The biggest part is just being ready.

Small Claims cases involve matters where $3,000 or less is in dispute and are filed in the Small Claims Division of the Franklin County Municipal Court if you live in my neck of the woods.  If you want to pick a bigger fight, you can claim up to $15,000 in the General Division of the Municipal Court.  Anything higher than that, and it’s Common Pleas Court time, my friend.  We’ll look to a practical example to illustrate the small claims process: Continue reading