How to File a Small Claim in Bethlehem
A small claims case is a lawsuit brought for the recovery of money damages, civil penalties, personal property, or other relief allowed by law. The claim can be for no more than $10,000, excluding statutory interest and court costs but including attorney fee if any. These Small Claims Courts can be used without the help of an attorney. The person or company who files the case is called the plaintiff and the person or company they file the case against is called the defendant.
There are many private companies providing you detailed guidelines regarding Filing A Lawsuit In Small Claim Court Bethlehem. These companies have professionals to assist you in your legal matter and to file a lawsuit on your behalf in Small Claims Court Bethlehem. Before filing a lawsuit in the justice court, it is always recommended you attempt to resolve your problems with the other party.
Limit of Small Claim Court Bethlehem
You can ask for up to $10,000 in a small claims action in Bethlehem Justice Court. This amount will increase to $20,000 on September 1, 2020.
Types of Small Claim Cases in Bethlehem Courts
You can file a lawsuit in small claim court Bethlehem if you have any of the following disputes:
- Auto accidents
- Small loans
- Defected new products
- Poor services rendered
- Landlord/Tenant Issues
- Business partnerships
- Government agencies
- Motor Vehicle Claims
- Bill collectors
Small Claim Court Fee in Bethlehem
The Justice of the Peace must collect total fees of $34.00 for the Filing of A Claim In The Small Claims Bethlehem Court. The filing fee is set out in Section 118.121 of the Bethlehem Local Government Code. Other fees in Small Claims Court are the same as those for cases in Justice Courts in Bethlehem.
Process of small claim in Bethlehem Courts
- Submission of the case (filling forms)
- Filling an appeal
Who May Sue in Bethlehem?
A person over the age of 18 years can sue in Small Claim Court Bethlehem. An underage can use the court accompanied by a parent, relative, or "next friend" over the age of 18 to file a claim and later go with the minor to the trial. Small Claims Cases are governed by Rules 500-507 of Part V of the Rules of Civil Procedure. The four most common reasons that plaintiffs file small claims cases are:
- The defendant made a promise and then didn’t honor the promise, which caused the plaintiff to lose money (breach of contract);
- The defendant owes money to the plaintiff and will not pay;
- The defendant did something that caused damage to the plaintiff’s property or caused injury to the plaintiff; or
- The defendant is in possession of personal property that belongs to the plaintiff.
Who May Be Sued in Bethlehem?
In Bethlehem, you can file the case against the person or company that is responsible for your damages (lost money) or that has your personal property. If the business is a corporation, you will need the name of the registered agent, president, or vice-president of the corporation. Any natural person, association, partnership, or corporation over which the Court has jurisdiction may be sued. The person or business being sued is called the "DEFENDANT".
When to File Suit in Bethlehem?
In Bethlehem, you can file a lawsuit four years for written and oral contracts and two years for injury and Property Damage Claims. If you don’t file within this period, you lose your right to sue. If a minor is injured, the personal injury statute will not begin running until the child reaches 18 years of age. In Bethlehem, a Small Claim Court has no power to hear a suit that is filed after these set time periods.
Types of Trials in Small Claims Court Bethlehem
The trial of the case may be heard by the Judge of the Court sitting alone, or upon request of either party, by a six-person jury. The Bethlehem statute creating the Small Claims Courts allows either party to request a jury upon payment of a $22 fee. Anyone can file a request for a jury trial with the Court not later than 14 days before the date on which the trial is to be held. Having a trial by Judge alone will generally take less time and be less complicated than a jury trial.
Who Can Represent a Small Claim in Bethlehem Justice Court?
You can appear before the Magistrate yourself but Lawyers or attorneys can appear on the behalf of small claims plaintiffs.
Procedure to Start a Suit
The Plaintiff has to go to the Civil Clerk of the Justice of the Peace Court. He has to fill a small claim statement form. He has to provide the following information:
- The Plaintiff's complete name and address.
- The Defendant's complete name and address
- The amount of the Plaintiff's claim
- The basis of the Plaintiff's claim
- The amount of money the Plaintiff properly owes the Defendant, if any.
- Swear under oath that this small claim statement is true
You have to pay the Clerk a filing fee and the service of citation fee, to cover costs of serving citation on the Defendant. Once a trial date has been set, ask the Clerk to issue a subpoena. The full name and address of a witness are needed for a subpoena to be issued. A fee must be paid for each subpoena requested.
If the Defendant in spite of being received the notice of the trial, does not appear in the court, the Judge is authorized to grant a default judgment against the Defendant. If the Plaintiff does not appear at the trial, then the Judge may enter an order dismissing the case. The Plaintiff and Defendant must bring to Court that day any evidence. Proceedings in Small Claims Court are less formal than in other civil courts. If it is a jury trial, the jury will deliver the verdict. If the Defendant wins, the Plaintiff will recover no money and must pay the court costs.
What Happens If the Plaintiff Wins?
If the Plaintiff wins, the Defendant will be ordered to pay the Plaintiff the amount of money awarded by the Court, plus court costs. If the Defendant does not pay the money awarded by the Court, then the Plaintiff can ask the Clerk to issue an execution. An execution orders the Sheriff or Constable to collect the amount of the judgment and court costs. The Plaintiff may ask the Clerk to issue an execution any time from 30 days after the judgment has been signed. An execution cannot be issued if either party is appealing the judgment.
Appeals in the Small Claims Court Bethlehem
Either party has the right to appeal to the County Court if the amount of the dispute exceeds $250, exclusive of the court costs. To appeal, a party must file an appeal bond in the Small Claims Court within 21 days from the date of the judgment. The new trial will be held before another judge or jury as if the case had never been tried in the Small Claims Court.
Who Can Collect the Judgment?
You are responsible for all collection efforts. The court cannot collect a judgment on your behalf. Private companies who provide services of Small Claim Bethlehem, can collect a judgment on your behalf.
What If I Cannot Afford to File a Case?
If you are unable to pay those fees, fill out a Statement of Inability to Afford Payment of Court Costs form – the court must provide this form to you.
Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Case?
The rules and procedures are designed to be simple and straightforward, allowing people to seek justice without needing to hire a lawyer. You can hire a lawyer for your convenience. If you do not have a lawyer to assist you in Small Claim Court, the judge may allow you to be assisted in court by a family member or another person who is not being paid to assist you. This person can help you understand the proceedings and advice you, though that person cannot speak for you in court.
Why Choose Small Claim Filing Company To File A Small Claim Courts Bethlehem?
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