If you are a New York resident involved in a dispute about money with an individual or a business, justice may not be out of reach. Many people avoid pursuing litigation that's potentially winnable because of the expenses of retaining an attorney and filing litigation.
The good news is that justice does not have to be delayed or denied if you use the New York small claims court system.
What is Small Claims Court?
Small claims court is where ordinary people can demand for court judgements on disputes and win their money back. It’s also known as the people’s court because:
- It's relatively inexpensive
- Lawyers are not required
- You don't have to notify the defendant - the court will do it for you in New York City
- The hours of operation are convenient
- You can have an interpreter
To file small claims, you must be over 18 years old, have a court form, and pay a fee.
Unlike some other states, only individuals can file small claims. Corporations, associations, partnerships, or assignees must file Commerical Claims and Consumer Transactions.
What New York Courthouse Should I File in?
Choose the courthouse where:
- Either of the parties resides
- Where either party has employment or business address
Take a look at the list of courthouse locations and consider these other recommendations.
How Much Can I Sue For?
The claim limit depends on where you're suing.
New York City (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island) - up to $10,000
Nassau and Suffolk Counties - up to $5,000
In a city court - up to $5,000
In a town or village court - up to $3,000
How to Write a Demand Letter for New York Small Claims
It is necessary to communicate with the defendant that you demand payment. This form of communication is also known as a demand letter, and it is essential to send one before filing in court.
Many cases are resolved through strongly worded demand letters. However, it is also advantageous to send you a letter on professional letterhead. Online services like Dispute offer help in writing a demand letter. Depending on the package you purchase, you can either have a professional write the entire letter, or use our DIY services and write it yourself.
Next, you'll have to send the demand letter. Postage, a printer, and access to a mailbox can be a hassle to find. With Dispute's services, you can send your letter with a click.
How to Fill Out a New York Statement of Claim
After sending a demand letter, the next step is filling out a Statement of Claim. This is the official state small claims form. For this form, you'll need the following information:
- Reason for the lawsuit
- Claim amount ($)
- Name and address of the person/business that is being sued
If you are suing a business, you need to look up the certificate of doing business. If you do not live in the City of New York and want to sue a party within the City of NY, you can file by mail. Make sure you fill out the form corresponding to the county where the defendant lives, works or does business.
These forms can get tricky, and mistakes prevent your case from filing. So doing research is essential.
Experts at Dispute file paperwork daily, and a full support team can help you find answers to your questions. Check out our package options for filing with us - you can choose different services based on your budget and needs.
How Much Does it Cost to File Small Claims in New York
Each state's small claims filing fees vary. But in New York, the fees are based off the claim amount.
If your claim amount is:
- </= $1,000, you'll pay a filing fee of $15
- between $1,000 and $10,000, you'll pay a filing fee of $20
You must pay either cash, certified check, money order, or bank check. Write this check out to "Clerk of Civil Court." They will not accept a personal check.
If there are no errors, you'll get your documents back with a date for the hearing. Hearings are usually at 6:30 pm, but you can request another time.
How do I notify the defendant for a small claims court hearing in New York City?
Once your claim is filed, the court will send the defendant information about when to appear in court, and a summary of your claim, and how much money you are requesting via mail. If the post office cannot send the notice, you will have a new hearing date.
In this case, you are now responsible for the defendant's service. If you want your case to be heard, the defendant must receive service within four months after you filed the claim. If you are too late, your claim will be dismissed.
How Do I Prepare for New York Small Claims Court?
- Gather evidence
- Prepare witnesses, if you have them
- Show up on time. Your trial will take 10-15 minutes, and you don't want to miss it.
The small claims process may feel long, but it's much shorter than cases in other courts. In addition, the process can be extended depending on how many errors there are in paperwork and defendant service.
Dispute offers to take the burden off of you. Instead of anxiously searching your physical mail and scrolling endlessly through self-help articles, input a few key details of your case into your user dashboard, and let our agents take care of the rest. We'll notify you of any case updates, so you can relax and let justice be served.