Home Self Help Small Claims Cases
Home Self Help Small Claims Cases
Small Claims Cases
  • How do I sue someone in small claims court?
    • 1. Determine whether your case qualifies as a small claim.
      • Small claims involve $7,500 or less (not including interest or costs)

             * You may file a small claims case for a larger amount, but you will only be able to collect
               $7,500 if you win.
              * You cannot divide a claim for more than $7,500 into two or more smaller claims.


        Small claims often involve the following types of disputes:

        * Recovery of money 
        * Restrictive covenants or residential property
        * Contracts
        * Security deposits and other landlord/tenant disputes

        More specific information on the law of small claims  can be found in the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rules 501 - 521 and §C.R.S. 13-6-403.

        If you do not understand this information, you may want to contact an attorney.

         

    • 2. Identify which county court should hear your case.
      • If you think your case is a small claim, you should next identify which county court will hear your case. You will need to identify the court that will hear your case to complete the forms mentioned later in these instructions, and to know where to go to file those forms.

        The appropriate county court is in the county where at least one of the following applies:

        * Where the Defendant (who you are suing) lives
        * Where the Defendant is regularly employed
        * Where the Defendant has an office for business

        * If the defendant is a student, you should file your case in the county where he or she attends school.

        * If the case involves certain types of landlord/tennant disputes (such as damage to property or a security deposit), you may be able to file your case in the county where the real property is located.

        * To find your district court  click on Courts by County.

    • 3. Follow these basic steps to open your case.
      • JDF 248 Small Claims Instructions has all the information included in one document.

        STEP 1: Fill out your forms.

        Fill out Form JDF 250 Notice, Claim and Summons to Appear for Trial.  Click on instructions for the step by step process to complete this form.

        STEP 2: File your case.

        * File your case by taking the completed JDF 250 to the clerk's counter in the county courthouse that you identified earlier. Make sure to bring all four parts of JDF 250 (7 pages) with you to the courthouse. Please note that you MUST file your form in person. You may not file your form by mail or e-mail.

        * You will be required to pay a filing fee at the time you submit Form JDF 250 to the clerk. The fee will be based on the amount of your claim:

        If your claim is  $1.00 up to $500.00

        If your claim is $501.00 up to $7500.00

        * If you do not think you can afford the filing fee, go to the instructions and fill out form JDF 205  Motion to File Without Payment and Supporting Financial Affidavit and the caption box at the top of JDF 206  Finding and Order Concerning Payment of Fees to request a waiver of the filing fee. The court will; 1) waive the fees 2) set up a payment plan or 3) have you pay the fees.

        * The clerk who accepts your forms and filing fee will complete the "trial date" box on the form and might also tell you that you must go through mediation prior to trial. The clerk will schedule mediation and trial as quickly as possible, but please keep in mind that the lawsuit process could take several months in some cases.

        STEP 3: Serve the defendant(s).

        * Follow these steps to serve your completed JDF 250 on the defendant (party that you are suing).

        *Service must be completed at least 15 calendar days before the trial date. If you fail to serve the defendant on time, you will need to work with the court to reschedule your trial, or the court might dismiss your case. If the court dismisses your case, you will likely have to start over again.

        * If you are suing more than one defendant, you will need to serve each defendant with a separate copy of your completed JDF 250.

        * Complete information on how to complete service of process.

    • 4. Prepare for mediation (if applicable).
      • Mediation can be an effective way to resolve your dispute. In mediation, a neutral third person works with you and the other party or parties to your case in a confidential setting with the goal of helping everyone negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. The court may order your case to mediation, or you can choose mediation to resolve your case without going to trial. Mediation services are available from the Colorado Office of Dispute Resolution (720-625-5940 or 800-888-0001 extension 55940) or from private mediators (see listings in the Yellow Pages or look up local mediators on the internet). Some areas offer no-or low-cost community mediation services. Please note that while you may choose to hire an attorney to represent you during mediation, you may also represent yourself, just like in court.

        To Prepare for Mediation: 

        * Collect and organize all legal, financial, and other documents related to your case.
        * Consider preparing notes or an outline about the events that gave rise to your case to help you remember details during the mediation
        * Bring the collected documents and any notes or outlines with you to the mediation session. Be sure to arrive on time.
        * Be prepared to discuss the case with the mediator and with the defendant(s) in a constructive manner.

        If you and the other party or parties reach an agreement during the mediation, prepare a stipulation using form JDF 75 and file it at the clerk's counter in the courthouse. If the mediation does not end in an agreement, then your case will likely proceed to a trial before a Judge.

        Mediation Association of Colorado 

        Colorado Bar Assn Alternate Dispute Resolution

         

         

         

    • 5. Prepare for a trial in front of the judge.
      • BEFORE YOUR TRIAL:

        * Try to observe a small claims court trial. Trials are generally open to the public. The counter clerks at the courthouse can help direct you to a courtroom if you let them know that you would like to observe a case. Observing a trial may help you feel more comfortable in court and could help you prepare your own case.

        * Determine what evidence you may need to show the judge during your trial. Evidence can be in the form of documents, photographs, letters, printed emails, charts, receipts, etc.

        * You should organize and label all pieces of evidence, called "exhibits."  Since you are the plaintiff, label your exhibits with numbers starting with 1. You should also make copies of the exhibits for the defendant(s) and for the judge. You will have to pay for any copies that the courthouse staff has to make for you.

        * Determine if you will need any witnesses to testify in your case. You can ask a witness to appear voluntarily. If the witness refuses to appear voluntarily, you may ask the judge to issue a subpoena using JDF 254. The subpoena will require the witness to come to court.

        * Before you appear in court, organize the key issues you would like to present during the trial by preparing notes or an outline.

        * Prepare to testify yourself if you think doing so will help your case.

        THE DAY OF YOUR TRIAL:

        Be on time.

        * Dress as you would dress for a job interview.

        * Turn off your cell phone.

        * Treat all people in the courtroom with respect, even if you get frustrated.

        * Call the judge "Your Honor," or "Judge."

        * The judge might ask you to speak to the other party or parties before the trial to determine if you can settle (resolve) the case without a trial. Please follow the judge's instructions.

        * During the trial, listen closely and take notes while any witnesses testify.

        * Present your position as clearly as possible and answer any questions the judge asks you. Make sure to tell the judge what outcome you would like to see in the case.

         

  • What do I do if I get sued in a small claims case?
    • 1. Read the documents you receive to help you understand the nature of the case.
      • READ all the documents you receive from the process server. Answer these questions to help you understand the situation:

        * Who is suing you? This person is known as the plaintiff.

        * What is the subject of the case? Small claims cases often arise from disputes involving landlord/tenant relationships, contracts, restrictive covenants, property, and money debts.

        * When is the trial date?

        * Where (city, county, courthouse) did the plaintiff file the case?

        * What do the documents ask you to do?

        If you do not understand this information, you may want to contact an attorney.
    • 2. Consider your options for responding to the lawsuit.
      • * You may choose not to respond in writing to the lawsuit. If you do not respond in writing, you must still keep track of the case, attend mediation, attend trial, and otherwise follow the court's orders.

        You have two options for responding to a small claims lawsuit in writing:

        (1) You may complete the Answer portion of the JDF 250  Notice, Claim and Summons to Appear for Trial form you received from the process server. Completing the Answer allows you to state your side of the case. If you choose this option, you should:

        * Fill out the Answer portion of the JDF 250 form. Make and keep a copy or two for your records.

        * File the Answer with the clerk at the counter in the courthouse identified on the front page of the JDF 250 by taking your completed Answer to the clerk.

        * You will be required to pay a filing fee at the time you submit the JDF 250 Answer to the clerk. The fee will be based on your Answer:

        Answer WITHOUT a counter claim up to 500.00

        Answer WITHOUT a counterclaim from $500.01 to $7,500.00

        Answer WITH counterclaim if plaintiff's claim is 500.00 or less and your counterclaim is 500.00 or less

        Answer WITH counterclaim if plaintiff's claim is more than 500.00 or your conterclaim is more than 500.00 but less than 7,500.00

        * Pay the filing fee. If you do not think you can afford the filing fee, go to the instructions and fill out the JDF 205   Motion to File Without Payment and fill out the caption box at the top of JDF 206 Finding and Order Concerning Payment of Fees to request a waiver of the filing fees. The court will; 1) waive the fees 2) set up a payment plan or 3) have you pay the fees.

        * Provide a copy of your answer to the plaintiff.

        OR


        (2) You may alternatively complete both the Answer and Counterclaim sections of the JDF 250 form you received from the process server. Completing both an Answer and Counterclaim allows you to state your side of the case, and also allows you to claim that the person suing you actually owes YOU something. If you choose to file an Answer and Counterclaim:

        * Fill out the Answer and Counterclaim poritions of the JDF 250 form. Make and keep a copy or two for your records.

        * File the Answer and Counterclaim with the clerk at the counter in the courthouse identified on the front page of the JDF 250 by taking your completed form to the clerk.

        * Provide a copy of your Answer and Counterclaim to the plaintiff.


        *  If you do not think you can afford the filing fee, go to the instructions and fill out form JDF 205 and JDF 206 to request a waiver of the filing fee. The court will; 1) waive the fees 2) set up a payment plan or 3) have you pay the fees.

        * Provide a copy of your Answer and Counterclaim to the plaintiff.

        IMPORTANT NOTE: The lawsuit will not go away if you choose to ignore it. Even without your response to the case, the judge could require you to attend mediation, participate in a trial, or otherwise respond to court orders. If you do not respond to the lawsuit and the court resolves the case in favor of the person suing you, you could suffer significant financial and legal consequences.

    • 3. Prepare for mediation (if applicable).
      • Mediation can be an effective way to resolve your dispute. In mediation, a neutral third person works with you and the other party or parties to your case in a confidential setting with the goal of helping everyone negotiate a mutually acceptable agreement. The court may order your case to mediation, or you can choose mediation to resolve your case without going to trial. Mediation services are available from the Colorado Office of Dispute Resolution (303-837-3672) or from private mediators (see listings in the Yellow Pages or look up local mediators on the internet). Some areas offer no-or low-cost community mediation services. Please note that while you may choose to hire an attorney to represent you during mediation, you may also represent yourself, just like in court.

        To Prepare for Mediation: 

        * Collect and organize all legal, financial, and other documents related to your case.
        * Consider preparing notes or an outline about the events that gave rise to your case to help you remember details during the mediation.
        * Bring the collected documents and any notes or outlines with you to the mediation session. Be sure to arrive on time.
        * Be prepared to discuss the case with the mediator and with the plaintiff(s) in a constructive manner.

        If you and the other party or parties reach an agreement during the mediation, prepare a stipulation using form JDF 75 and file it at the clerk's counter in the courthouse. If the mediation does not end in an agreement, then your case will likely proceed to a trial before a Judge.

        Mediation Association of Colorado

        Colorado Bar Assn Alternate Dispute Resolution

    • 4. Prepare for a trial in front of the judge.
      • BEFORE YOUR TRIAL:

        * Try to observe a small claims court trial. Trials are generally open to the public. The counter clerks at the courthouse can help direct you to a courtroom if you let them know that you would like to observe a case. Observing a trial may help you feel more comfortable in court and could help you prepare your own case.

        * Determine what evidence you may need to show the judge during your trial. Evidence can be in the form of documents, photographs, letters, printed emails, charts, receipts, etc.

        * You should organize and label all pieces of evidence, called "exhibits."  Since you are the defendant, label your exhibits with letters starting with A. You should also make copies of the exhibits for the plaintiff(s) and for the judge. You will have to pay for any copies that the courthouse staff has to make for you.

        * Determine if you will need any witnesses to testify in your case. You can ask a witness to appear voluntarily. If the witness refuses to appear voluntarily, you may ask the judge to issue a subpoena using JDF 254. The subpoena will require the witness to come to court.

        * Before you appear in court, organize the key issues you would like to present during the trial by preparing notes or an outline.

        * Prepare to testify yourself if you think doing so will help you defend yourself.

        THE DAY OF YOUR TRIAL:

        Be on time.

        * Dress as you would dress for a job interview.

        * Turn off your cell phone.

        * Treat all people in the courtroom with respect, even if you get frustrated.

        * Call the judge "Your Honor," or "Judge."

        * The judge might ask you to speak to the other party or parties before the trial to determine if you can settle (resolve) the case without a trial. Please follow the judge's instructions.

        * During the trial, listen closely and take notes while any witnesses testify.

        * Present your position as clearly as possible and answer any questions the judge asks you. Make sure to tell the judge what outcome you would like to see in the case.

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