Small Claims Cases
Q. What information do I need to file against
If the business is a corporation, you will the correct name of the corporation, and the name and address of the corporation's registered agent.
If the business is a partnership, you will need the name and address of at least one of the partners.
If the business is a sole proprietorship, you will need the name and address of the owner of the business.
Business ownership may be determined from the Harris County Clerk's Assumed Name Records. Information about a corporation, and the corporation's Registered Agent may be obtained from the Office of the Secretary of State, Corporation Division, 800-252-5555. Information as to the corporation's standing is available from the Office of the State Comptroller, 800-252-1386.
Q. What is the maximum amount I can sue for in Small Claims Court?
Q. If I am sued in Small Claims Court, what should I do?
Q. How do I ask for a jury trial?
Q. What happens in court?
When you arrive in the Small Claims Court, it is a good idea to announce to the clerk that you are present. If the justice of the peace calls the "docket," that is each case scheduled to be heard at that time, you should answer "present" when your case is called.
Pick a Jury
If you have demanded a jury, a jury panel will be available from which you will select six jurors to decide your case. Both the plaintiff and the defendant will be able to ask the potential jurors questions to learn about the jurors, their prejudices, and their sympathies.
You may tell the justice of the peace if you think that a certain juror cannot be fair and ask that the juror be excused for cause. You may disqualify three (3) jurors using your peremptory strikes for any reason or for no reason.
Swear to Tell the Truth
When the trial begins, the justice of the peace or the clerk will ask each party and their witnesses to swear to tell the truth.
Meet Your Burden of Proof
As the plaintiff, you will have the opportunity to begin. You have the burden to prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. You may proceed by testifying about the facts of your claim, presenting any physical or documentary evidence you have, and asking questions of your witnesses.
The defendant will have an opportunity to cross-examine the plaintiff and each of the plaintiff's witnesses, by asking questions.
Defendant's Side of the Story
At the end of the plaintiff's presentation, the defendant will explain the circumstances from his or her point of view. The defendant may take the position that the plaintiff or the plaintiff's witnesses are wrong in their perception or interpretation of the transaction, or that the plaintiff is not entitled to as much money as claimed, or to any money.
Defendant's Failure to Appear
If the defendant does not appear for the hearing after being properly notified, the plaintiff may be entitled to a default judgment if the plaintiff is able adequately to prove his or her damages.
At the conclusion of the evidence, the justice of the peace or the jury will decide the outcome of the case. The judgment will become final after ten (10) days, if no appeal is taken.
Q. When should I file a lawsuit?
Q. For what can I sue in Small Claims Court?
Q. What do I need to do to prepare for a trial?
This information is furnished to you to provide basic information relative to the law governing procedures for small claims cases in the Harris County Justice Courts.
The Harris County Justices of the Peace and the Clerks of the Harris County Justice Courts are not allowed to give legal advice. You are urged to review the applicable laws and to consult an attorney of your choice for further information or answers to specific legal questions.
You have the right to a trial by a jury and to be represented by an attorney of your choice, or to represent yourself.
Disclaimer: The law is constantly changing and there may be times when the information on this web site will not be current. This information is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. This information is not a comprehensive treatment of the subject and is not a substitute for advice from an attorney.