Sometimes the cost of hiring a lawyer totals more than the money you're owed. Small claims court can be a quick and inexpensive way to collect on your own. The court procedures are informal, not intimidating. And a judge, instead of a jury, usually decides the case.
Who Can Sue and Be Sued?
Any individual, business or corporation may bring a small claims suit for the recovery of money when the amount requested isn't more than $5,000. Even if you have a claim for a slightly greater amount, you may choose to limit it to take advantage of the small claims court's streamlined procedure. Attorneys aren't allowed, except on appeal. More
Where Do I File a Small Claims Case?
You file a small claims case in the Magistrate's Division of the District Court in the county where the party being sued (the "defendant") lives or, in the case of a traffic accident, in the district court division where the accident occurred. If your case involves a landlord-tenant dispute, you can bring the case where the home or apartment is located. The clerk of the court should be able to determine whether the address is within the boundaries of that court. More
Dispute Resolution Services
Before filing a small claims case, the parties are encouraged to try to resolve their differences. Free or low-cost services may be available through the court or local legal clinics. For more information, contact your local court. More
Witnesses at a Small Claims Trial
While you're getting ready for a trial in the Idaho small claims court, make sure you don't focus only on things like bills, leases and canceled checks. Witnesses at small claims court can help persuade a judge that you should win the case. More
What Happens at Trial?
The trial in small claims court is between you and the defendant. Both parties must prepare their cases and bring those witnesses or other evidence (such as documents, records, photographs or drawings) to court to support their claims or defenses. Witnesses must have personal knowledge of the facts in their testimonies. Documents, records, photographs and drawings must be identified and explained by someone with personal knowledge of them.
If the defendant does not appear at trial, you will be granted a "default" judgment for the amount of your claim, plus your filing and service costs. If you fail to appear at trial, the judge will dismiss your claim. More
How Do I Collect the Judgment?
If the court enters a judgment against either party, it is that party's duty to pay without delay. The small claims court does not collect the judgment for you. But if the judgment is not appealed or paid within 30 days, you can start trying to collect the judgment by garnishing wages or bank accounts, or trying to locate the personal property of the person who owes the judgment. Ask the clerk of the court about getting a "Writ of Execution" from the court to start the collection process. More
How Do I Appeal a Judgment Against Me?
You must file an appeal within 30 days after the judgment is entered. Detailed instructions for filing a small claims appeal are available from the clerk of the court. More