In Massachusetts, you can file a Small Claims Action in any District Court. The “Small Claims Court” is simply a session or courtroom within a District Court.
Where to Go to File a Small Claims Complaint
In order to file a Small Claims Action, you will need to go directly to the District Court. The District Court you choose to file in can be any one of the following:
- The District Court near you, in your county or area
- The District Court near the defendant, in their county or area
- The District Court near the site of the incident or issue for which you are filing a Small Claims Action.
Upon entering the appropriate District Court, you should then go to the Civil Clerk’s Office and ask for an available civil clerk and/or a court employee that can help you with filing a Small Claims Complaint. There is a specific form—called a Small Claims Complaint—that needs to be filled out with the necessary information, including the parties and what happened. These forms should be available to you at any Civil Clerk’s office.
What You Need to File
You will need to provide your name and address, the name and address of the defendant you are suing, and a brief description of what happened and why you are suing. The form will also require you to describe or articulate the amount of your damages as a result of the defendant’s actions or conduct.
After completing the form you will pay the appropriate fee. The amount of the filing fees depends upon the amount in dispute.
- The filing fee for small claims of $500 and under is $40.
- The filing fee for claims of $501 to $2000 is $50.
- The filing fee for claims of $2001 to $5000 is $100.
- The filing fee for claims of $5001 to $7000 is $150.
- The filing fee for claims of property damage of more than $7000 arising from an automobile accident is $150.
Preparing For Your Hearing
After completing the form and paying the fee, the clerk will designate a trial date or hearing date. You will be advised on what date and time to come back to the court for a hearing. Depending upon which District Court you file in, you can usually expect a hearing date within 30 to 90 days of your filing. Generally, Small Claims Actions do not require lengthy hearings, translating into less waiting time. The clerk will also be responsible for notifying the defendant of the suit and the trial date.
Remember to bring ALL of your evidence and witnesses with you when you appear for the trial or hearing date. Small Claims Actions rarely if ever require lawyers, and therefore the duty of collecting evidence and witnesses for your case falls to you. Without bringing thorough evidence, it will be difficult to prove your Smalls Claims Action, and you may not receive another chance to receive compensation. Good luck with your case!
If you feel unsure if you have a Small Claims Action, a larger case, or would like to explore your legal options more thoroughly, the attorneys of Mazow | McCullough, PC in Salem, MA can help. We’re experienced, knowledgeable, and able to assist you with your legal issues. Contact us today for a free consultation.