Auto Accident Small Claims Court

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Many auto accidents do not result in serious injury or expensive property damage.  In fact, it may cost you more to pursue a case in court then you are likely to recover in a court award even if another party is at fault.  However, that does not leave you without options for recovery.  Each state has a Small Claims Court that allows you to file an auto accident complaint, also known as a Statement of Claim in some jurisdictions, to recover damages.  Small Claims Court is an appropriate venue if your damages and likely accident judgment are a few thousand dollars or less and you did not suffer serious injuries in the accident.

Small Claims Court Process for Car Accident Disputes

A Small Claims Court case begins when an auto accident complaint is filed with the Court.  Generally, the statute of limitations for filing an auto accident case in Smalls Claims Court is the same as the statute of limitations for filing an auto accident case in the trial court of your state.

Once the complaint has been filed, a pretrial hearing is typically scheduled.  Before the parties appear in Court for the pretrial hearing, the defendant may file auto accident counterclaims.  Auto accident counterclaims are legal allegations that you, the plaintiff, are liable for the damage caused by the accident. 

If either party admits fault or if the judge is able to determine fault at the pretrial hearing then an accident judgment will be entered against the party liable for the damages.  If fault cannot be determined at the pretrial hearing, then the judge will either order the parties to mediation or schedule a trial to determine fault.

Small Claims Court trials are less formal, faster and less expensive than traditional civil trials. You may have the right to appeal a decision of Small Claims Court.

Is an Auto Accident Lawyer Necessary?

A consultation with an Auto Accident Lawyer, which some lawyers may provide free of charge, can help you determine if Small Claims Court is the right judicial venue for your case and can represent you during Small Claims Court proceedings.  While the potential recovery is limited, it is still important to your financial future to recover the maximum amount possible under the law and your auto accident attorney can help you do just that.

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