HOW TO WIN IN PHILADELPHIA SMALL CLAIMS COURT
If you have a small claim matter, you can handle it yourself, and win, in Philadelphia Small Claims Court. Watch the video below and learn how.
Philadelphia Small Claims Court is where you can go for matters under $12,000. There are many situations where you have a dispute, and you think you need an attorney, but all you really need is Philadelphia Small Claims Court.
In Pennsylvania, Small Claims Courts are called Municipal District Courts. Municipal District Courts are located in every County and there are many of them in each County. Damages are limited to $8,000 – $12,000 and this amount varies from County to County.
You cannot file a claim in Philadelphia Small Claims Court if you claim damages exceeding $12,000. If the value of your case is more than $12,000, click here for information on how Fox Law can help.
John Fox explains how to handle your own case in Philadelphia Small Claims Court in a step-by-step video.
Why would you consider going to Philadelphia Small Claims Court?
- You Don’t Need An Attorney
- It’s Cheaper – Usually the filing fee is about $100, and you get it back if you prevail.
- It’s Faster – Disputes will be handled quickly. Usually the court schedules a hearing within 4-5 weeks of you filing your complaint. (In Common Peas Court, it can take up to 9 months to a year.)
What Kind of Dispute Should You Consider for Philadelphia Small Claims Court?
- Contract Disputes – Breach of Contract – People owe you money
- Landlord Tenant Disputes
- Motor Vehicle Property Damage Disputes
I would not recommend Philadelphia Small Claims Court if you have been injured. If you have been injured, it is very likely that your case is worth more than $12,000. In this case, I recommend you contact an experienced Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer for a free case evaluation. If you have been injured in a car accident, I recommend you contact an experienced Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer for a free case evaluation.
Procedure – What to Expect in Philadelphia Small Claims Court?
- Pick the District Court closest to where the issue arose and close to you and the defendant. To file a claim in Philadelphia Small Claims Court, the defendant must either live in Philadelphia or the accident must have happened in Philadelphia. If you are filing a Philadelphia Small Claims Court breach of contract matter, the document must have been signed in Philadelphia or the defendant lives in Philadelphia. If you are suing a company, you must have the correct name and address of the company. You may find the name and address of Pennsylvania Corporations on the Pennsylvania’s Corporation Bureau website or you can call them at 717-787-1057.
- Go to the District Court and get the complaint form. Complaints must be filed in person, so save a trip, you might want to be prepared to fill out the form and file the complaint at that time.
- Fill it out with the amount of the damages. In the complaint, be specific about the basis of the claim.
- Bring a check, so you can pay the filing fee and service fee after the complaint is filed. It is usually about $100.
- You will need to have the defendant’s correct address to complete the complaint and the address cannot be a P.O. Box. You must provide the defendant’s address to the court so that the defendant can be served. The Court will mail your complaint to the defendant and issue a hearing date. (The hearing date may change.)
- Bring a copy of all of the documents you will use to prove your case. These documents need to be provided to the defendant before the trial. Attach a copy of all of your documents to your claim when you file it. Documents you may want to include are correspondence, photographs, diagrams, invoices, contracts, cancelled checks, and cost estimates of the property damage.
- Show up on time for your hearing. If you do not show up on time, your claim may be dismissed. Your case will be one of may cases listed for a hearing that day. You may have to wait for your case to be heard, especially if it is Philadelphia County.
- At the hearing, bring whatever documents you need to prove your case such as contracts, photographs, and any witnesses you think may be helpful in proving your case.
- If you and the defendant both appear, you will both be given the change to settle your case without your case being heard by the judge. If you cannot settle your case before your hearing,the case will go to trial before a judge.
- At the hearing, you will testify as to what happened and submit your evidence and witnesses to the court.
- After the hearing, the Judge will make his/her decision and send his decision in the mail. Judges rarely make a decision from the bench on the date of the hearing.
- If the decision is in your favor, you can execute on the judgment if it is not appealed by the other party.
4 Tips on How To Handle Yourself in Philadelphia Small Claims Court
- Be Polite.
- Stay calm and composed.
- Speak directly to the judge. Do not speak directly to the other party.
- Do not interrupt the judge or the other party. You will have your chance to explain your case.
In summary, Philadelphia Small Claims Court is a good way to go if you want to resolve your dispute quickly and economically.
Consider Philadelphia Small Claims Court for Car Accident Property Damage Claims
If you were involved in a car accident and you were not hurt, but you have a property damage claim, you may have property damage insurance under your own policy, or the person who hit you may, or may not have property damage insurance. In that situation, you have a few options. You can submit your claims to your insurance company or the at-fault person’s insurance company, and the insurance company may pay your claim. If there is no insurance coverage, or if the person who hit you refuses to turn the claim over to their insurance company, then you may want to file your lawsuit in Philadelphia Small Claims Court.
Where to Start
To start the process of handling your own Philadelphia small claim matter (judicial district court claim) begin by electronically filing your claim at fjdclaims.phila.gov.
Additional Philadelphia Small Claims Court Resources
Philadelphia Judicial District Court Phone Assistance 215-686-2901