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If you are filing a Small Claims action, you are called the plaintiff. If you have been sued, you are called the defendant. To start an action, you must fill out a Complaint Form, which you can acquire at the District Court. This form explains whom you are suing, for how much money, and why you are claiming the money. You must bring the completed form to the Court Clerk's office or fill it out while at the Court. The form must include the defendant's complete address, the amount you are seeking, and a brief statement of why the amount is owed. The defendant will be sent a copy of your complaint by certified mail, unless you request service by the Sheriff's Office or private process server. It is your responsibility to provide the Court with a good address with which to obtain service.
The length of time you have to file depends upon the type of claim you are bringing. If a written agreement has been broken or breached, you have five years after the date it was broken to file your claim. If your claim pertains to a verbal agreement or contract, rent, or injury to goods, then you have three years to file your claim.
If an answer is not filed within 30 days, your case is eligible for a default judgment. A default hearing will be held, and at that time, the Judge will enter the judgment in your favor, as long as you have the necessary proof to submit your claim. If for any reason service is not made upon the defendant, please contact the clerk's office for alternative service. The defendant must then be served within 120 days or your case may be dismissed.
If you are the plaintiff, you should collect any papers, documents, or pictures which relate to the case, and bring them with you when you go to trial. Bring receipts, bills and estimates to show the Judge to help you prove your claim. The Court will issue a subpoena to require the attendance of anyone you want to call as a witness. As the clerk for the fees for this. If you are the defendant, you should follow the above procedure for the plaintiff. If you do not wish to contest the plaintiff's claim, you may settle with the plaintiff before your trial date and have the plaintiff dismiss the action so that no judgment may be awarded by default. You may answer the claim by denying that you owe the money, and you may file an Answer and Counterclaim form if you feel that the plaintiff may owe you money. Your Answer and Counterclaim form must be filed with the court within 30 days of service.