Understandably, much of the focus of injury claims in court systems revolves around large settlements or jury verdicts. At least, that is what the news what have you believe. In reality, many people have cases that involve smaller amounts of money that will be resolved in a Philadelphia small claims court. At the Ciccarelli Law Offices, we understand that any amount of money that someone is owed is important to them. Here, we want to explain the small claims court process in Philadelphia and discuss whether or not you need an injury lawyer for these cases.
What are “small claims” cases?
Every jurisdiction defines “small claims” a bit differently, and whether or not a case is considered a small claim depends on the amount defined by local law. In Philadelphia, small claims courts are for amounts of damages costing less than $12,000. There are several types of cases that can be handled in a small claims court as opposed to going to a more traditional court to settle the matter. This can include:
- Landlord/tenant disputes
- Collections of bad debt
- Failure to meet the terms of a service contract
- Seek the return of a security deposit
- Recover compensation for property damaged during cleaning
- Repayment of a small loan
- Smaller personal injury matters
- Failure to fix a vehicle or plants correctly
When determining what court system to use for your small claims issue, it is important to distinguish between whether or not your case is in the city limits of Philadelphia or outside of the city limits. Small claims cases inside the city limits of Philadelphia will be handled by the Philadelphia Municipal Court. Cases filed outside of the city limits of Philadelphia will be handled by whichever district the incident occurred in. Please refer to this list of Magisterial District Courts by clicking here to determine where you should file your claim.
Do you need an attorney for your Philly small claims case?
When determining whether or not you need an attorney to help with your small claims case, there are various factors that need to be taken into consideration. For lower amounts of money, it may not make financial sense to hire an attorney to help your case.
However, it is important to realize that even small claims court processes can become confusing for those without legal experience. Even though the small claims court process will be less formal than traditional court proceedings, you will still need a well-reasoned argument to win your case. An attorney will:
- Be able to examine all the evidence in your case
- Present the evidence to the court in a way that logically backs up your claim
- Defend you against false claims or counter-arguments from other parties involved
If you are seeking compensation for an amount on the upper end of the small claims court limits (i.e. close to $12,000), this is a decent amount of money, and you may want to use an attorney. Even after paying legal fees, you are likely to come out with more money than you would have had if you were unsuccessful in your case. You can contact the Ciccarelli Law Offices in Philadelphia for a free consultation or calling (215) 228-0100.