Your Case Is Too Small

You contact an attorney who says “you likely have a case,” but the attorney won’t represent you, what’s up with that? — The answer is simple. The court system is broken down into courts (where the amount you can recover is capped), and courts of general jurisdiction (where the amount you can recover is unlimited). Sometimes we speak to people that may have a case, but a “small case”.

A small case generally refers to claims involving $10,000 or less. In the courts set up to handle these cases YOU DON’T NEED an attorney. The filing fee is minimal. And, the evidence rules are not enforced. These courts are set up to allow people to pursue cases without an attorney. Think of such courts as like those television show courts where you have a judge and two parties that tell their story and the judge makes a decision.

So, if in contacting us you tell us the facts of your case, and we perceive that if what you tell us is true and accurate, that you really do have a sound legal basis to sue someone, we still may decline to represent you, if it involves a very small matter. But, keep in mind, if we recommend that you consider taking your case to court set up as described, where you do not need a lawyer, it is typically because we are concerned that you do not forfeit your right to sue even when the claim does not justify paying a lawyer.

A good example of the type of case that might do very well in such a situation is where you have been cheated by a contractor who was supposed to do repairs on your home, took your money, and has not done a single thing to perform the work. Another example might be where you fall while shopping at a store, but just suffer a bump and bruise, and the manager says that “we are sorry, we knew of the danger, but didn’t clean up the spill or put out a warning sign”. These examples sound promising as potential cases, but, let’s look at your damages. Say you did not break a bone or suffer serious injury, but just bruised your ego and are a little sore. These kinds of damages are not large enough that it make senses for you to pay an attorney to take your case. If you really feel strongly that the case needs to be pursued, file it in a self-serve Court where you can pursue it on your own.

Here is a link to a copy of the rules that apply to such limited jurisdiction courts and we routinely provide a paper copy of them to people who call us in such situations as a public service. While people should not file litigation unnecessarily, we encourage people to file especially when not pursuing a claim might endanger other people. In other words, filing a claim might be necessary to prevent others from being cheated by unscrupulous people. Such claims are not unimportant, rather they are in fact very important to the justice system in this country. People should not get away with cheating and stealing. So by all means, do-it-yourself lawsuits should be seriously considered as an option if you have a legal dispute that is small, but still represents a big wrong that needs to be made right.

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