Most of us are not skilled craftsmen and women who can make our own furniture. Instead, we rely upon furniture companies to furnish our homes with beds, cabinets, nightstands, and the like. That's why it can be quite frustrating when an issue occurs with missing, delayed, or damaged furniture. Hopefully, the furnishing company acts decisively and solves the issue for you.
But what if this company has caused you suffering or sold you a broken good, and won't offer a proper fix for it? Well, one of the ways that you can justice is by suing a furniture company in small claims court. This article will explain how to go about that and what to expect.
The Most Common Issues with Furniture Companies
Many users email us and say "Can I sue my furniture company for this issue?." The specific issue varies but are some of the common complaints users reach out to ask if they can sue a furniture company for:
- Missing products from a shipment
- Unreasonably delayed products
- Broken products at delivery
- Failure to refund or delayed refund
- Not honoring a furniture warranty
The answer is yes, you can as long as you follow the rules of the courthouse where you plan to file. Small Claims courts often have a maximum claim amount of $10,000 or less, so it's important to ensure your complaint fits within that limit.
What To Do Before Suing in Small Claims Court
It's important to contact any person or company you plan on suing to see if you can amicably solve the issue prior to moving forward with the suit. Many small claims (and other) courts require you to give notice through the use of a demand letter, but it's also best practice to notify the other party because they may want to quickly solve the problem for you. Lawsuits can take weeks, or even months to resolve and you may find it takes longer to collect on your judgment. The steps below might help you reach a positive outcome faster:
- Contact Customer Service - Try to call the company or email them directly about the issue. Many companies realize that good customer service is an essential part of business and will want to work with you to rectify the issue.
- Contact Them on Social Media: Some companies respond to Twitter or Facebook complaints faster than their own support lines. Adding a photo or document to your post that details your situation can help legitimize your complaint and get faster support as well.
- File a Complaint with the BBB against the Company: The Better Business Bureau may be able to help you with your complaint against the furniture company. You will also see on their BBB page if they even respond to complaints issued through this private organization.
- Send a Demand Letter - A demand letter is a letter that outlines a set of requests. A small claims court is most likely going to ask you to formally request your money or property back before you can file a lawsuit. While you can request your money or property back orally, it is best practice to do so in the writing of a demand letter.
How to Write a Demand Letter
If you are unsure of what to include in your demand letter to the other party, don't worry. You will want to include the following:
- How much money you are owed
- Why you are owed money
- Your contact information
- Where to send payment
- Give them a few days to respond (usually about 7 to 14 days)
- State that if they don't respond, you intend to sue
You will want to mail the letter to the other party in order to give them the best chance at fixing the problem. Dispute can help you generate and send a demand letter via 2-day priority mail in just 5 minutes from your phone or computer as well.
How Much Does it Cost to Sue in Small Claims Court?
If the other party ignores your demand letter, what is the next step? You may consider suing them in a small claims court.
Your first step will be to review any and all communications you have received from the other party. Your case may be contingent on showing the damages, negligence and/or civil battery discussed above.
The next step is understanding the fees you can expect. Primarily, those are court filing fees. The amount you will pay to file a small claims lawsuit in small claims court depends on how much you are suing the other party for. You can pay between $30 to $400 to file the lawsuit depending upon the state and local county where you are filing. If you cannot afford to pay court fees, you can ask the court directly to waive the fees.
Once the lawsuit is filed, you must notify the other party that you have sued them. This is called "serving."
Serving Costs can range from $0-$75 depending upon if you hire local law enforcement or a private process server.
It's important to remember, if you win your case, you can also request that the defendant pay for your court fees and serving costs.
How Much Can I Sue for in Small Claims Court?
In most small claims courts, you can sue for a maximum of $10,000. But it all depends on the limits set by the court where you plan to file.
By suing in small claims you are agreeing to waive any amount over the maximum amount you can sue for, even if you are owed more. For example, if someone owes you $11,000, and you decide to sue in small claims, you are waiving suing for an additional $1,000. Meaning that you will win a maximum of $10,000.
While you may be missing out on the full amount you are owed, there are practical benefits to suing in small claims instead of suing in civil court:
Here are some of the benefits:
- Court filing fees are cheaper in small claims than in other courts.
- The process is faster in small claims than in other courts as your hearing will usually be scheduled 30-70 days after you file the lawsuit.
- Lawyers are generally not allowed in small claims which helps keep the costs of suing low.
How Do I File a Small Claims Lawsuit?
Step 1: Complete the Necessary Legal Forms to File
After sending your demand letter, you’ll want to file a statement of claim. This is the official state small claims form. For this form, you'll need the following information:
- The courthouse you’d like to file in
- Reason for the lawsuit
- Claim amount ($)
- Name and address of the person/business that is being sued
Small Claims forms can be difficult, and mistakes prevent your case from successfully filing. 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.
Step 2: Serve the Defendant
Once your claim has been approved by the court, you are required by law to notify the defendant that you're suing them. Different courthouses have different regulations regarding defendant service. Some require service through mail, while you may need to find a private process server for others.
Other courts require the defendant to "answer” the claim and wait for that answer before deciding to hold a hearing. Contact your courthouse for their rules to better understand what you expect.
Step 3: Prepare for Court
You can take a few steps when preparing for your day in court.
- Gather evidence
- Prepare witnesses, if you have any
- Dress appropriately
- Show up on time
- Present your Case
Good luck with your case, and please contact us if you have any questions about our services.