In North Carolina, Small Claims Court is where people settle disputes regarding property or money with a value of $10,000 or less. There is no jury, but there are judges called magistrates that govern the proceedings in Small Claims Court.
In order to file a claim, the plaintiff must pay $96 and an additional $30 to serve the defendant by sheriff unless the plaintiff chooses to serve the defendant by certified mail with return receipt requested. On the other hand, a person that cannot afford to pay the filing fee may file a Petition to Sue as an Indigent.
The complaint should be filed in the office of the Clerk of Superior Court in the County where either the defendant resides or in a county where your the acts that justify your lawsuit occurred. Moreover, the complaint should explain who you are suing, where the defendant lives or does business, what the defendant owes you, and why the defendant owes you. Do not forget to clearly state what relief you are seeking from the court.
At trial, the parties receive an opportunity to present evidence and have witnesses testify based on their personal knowledge. After both parties have presented their cases, the magistrate will usually make decision. However, the magistrate has up until 10 days from the date of trial to make a decision. If a party is unhappy with the magistrate’s decision, it may appeal the case to district court after paying the clerk a fee of $92.
Many people attempt to navigate Small Claims Court without a lawyer, but as stated above, there are procedural rules that must be followed in order to get your case inside of the courtroom. Moreover, it important to know the relevant substantive law so that the proper evidence is submitted in court to help prove your case. Therefore, it is advisable to retain a lawyer to assist you with your lawsuit. Learn Your Rights 1o1.