Everyone contemplating a Small Claims lawsuit must weigh the time and effort required to follow through on the case against the amount of money you hope to win. Some people feel that although the amount of money is not large, they want to pursue their claim for issues of "principle." This is a personal decision. Try to evaluate your case objectively. Put yourself in the shoes of the judge who might decide your case. If you were asked to reach a decision in your case based on both parties´ versions of the facts, would you arrive at a verdict in your favor? Evaluate your case by considering these questions:
- Do I Have the Defendant´s Address?
You must be able to locate the defendant in order to sue because you must arrange for the defendant to be served with a copy of the claim form. If the defendant has disappeared, you may not be able to sue until you locate him or her.
- Will A Counterclaim Be Filed Against Me?
The person or business you are suing has a right to make a claim against you for money damages. These types of claims are called counterclaims. In deciding whether to sue, consider any claim the defendant may have against you. If the judge decides you are wrong and the defendant is right, you may find yourself in a worse position than if you had never sued. You could be ordered to pay the defendant a money judgment and pay court costs too.
- Does The Defendant Have Any Assets?
Once you win a Small Claims Court case, you must take steps to collect a judgment if the defendant does not pay you. Collection may take the form of garnishing the defendant´s wages or bank account or attaching his or her property. Sometimes the defendant has no assets which can be attached or income which can be garnished. Since we don´t have debtor´s prison in this country, you may have reached a dead end even though you won your case.
- Do I Have The Evidence I Need To Win?
In order to win a Small Claims lawsuit, you must have proof. Have you kept the receipts, canceled checks, a contract, letters, bills, or other documents required to prove your case? Is your essential witness leaving town? You need to collect and organize your evidence early in the game so you can decide if you can prove your case.