Attorney Says 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 small claims 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”.
Small claims courts are generally for claims involving $10,000 or less. In these courts YOU DON’T NEED an attorney. The filing fee is minimal. And, the evidence rules are not enforced in a small claims court. These courts are set up to allow people to pursue cases without an attorney. Think of the Small Claims Court 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 injury. But, keep in mind, if we recommend that you consider small claims court, it is typically because we are concerned that you do not forfeit your right to sue even when the claim is small.
A good example of the type of case that might do very well in a small claims court 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, 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 small enough that it does not make sense for an attorney to take your case. If you really feel strongly that the case needs to be pursued, Small Claims Court is where you should pursue it.
We have the Small Claims Court rules that we routinely provide to people who call us in such situations. 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 in the Small Claims Court should be seriously considered as an option if you have a legal dispute that is small, but still represents a wrong that needs to be made right.