The money required to bring a lawsuit can be high. This is likely not surprising to you. Once the costs of attorneys and expert witnesses have been added, a case brought in a district court can have expenses that total five or even six figures. Because of these costs, the choice to litigate always carries the risk of significant financial loss.
Aside from the financial risk, a lawsuit can be incredibly time-consuming. From start to finish, a single suit may take years to conclude. The time commitment alone may act as a deterrent for potential plaintiffs who have been damaged but cannot afford to lose more money.
Each week our firm receives a handful of inquiries from potential plaintiffs who have been damaged financially. However, because of the issues stated previously, many decide that pursuing their claims is not worth the hassle or the risk.
So how can these “smaller” issues be resolved? Thankfully, in North Dakota, we have what is called, “small claims court”. To be eligible to file a complaint in small claims court, your claim for damages must be $15,000 or less. Small claims court has many upsides and mitigates the risks associated with proceedings brought in district court.
First, small claims actions are informal in comparison to an action brought in a district court. The whole claim can be completed from start to finish without the assistance of an attorney. In many instances, however, we have been retained by clients who would prefer that we walk them through the process to ensure it is done correctly.
Second, in many cases, a small claims action can be finalized from start to finish in a matter of weeks. Once your complaint has been filed, each defendant will have 20 days to answer your allegations. Once an answer has been received, the court will set a hearing date. Often this hearing date will only be a few weeks out. This is appealing when compared to an action brought in district court, which may take years.
Lastly, in addition to saving potentially thousands of dollars on attorney fees, small claims actions are usually less expensive to file than an action brought in district court. These reduced fees allow plaintiffs to retain a larger percentage of the judgment.
If you would like assistance in bringing an action in small claims court please contact us today!