If an out of court settlement or mediation does not work out for a small dispute, you may consider filing a small claims case. In the state of Georgia, a small claims court is referred to as the Magistrate Court. The court has the jurisdiction to handle cases of monetary claims up to $15000.
The Magistrate’s Court handles cases involving property disputes, tenant and landlord disputes, faulty workmanship, and personal damages. However, the Magistrate Court may not entertain cases concerning professional malpractice, slander, libel, punitive damages and assigned claims.
An individual, business enterprise or a corporation may file small claims cases against another individual, corporation or business entity. In case of small claims cases, the litigant may present his case himself or if needed, he may take the help of a legal advisor at his own expense. You can find a legal advisor in Gwinnett County by looking at an online legal directory.
To begin with the procedure of filing claims, you may download the appropriate form from the Gwinnett County Magistrate Court’s official site. Before filling out the forms assess the damages accurately and get your facts straight. Obtain all the details pertaining to the defendant such as the full name, residential address and work address. In case the defendant is a corporation or a business enterprise, you have to use the officially registered name of the company as the defendant. If you are not sure about the actual address of the company, you need to obtain it from the office of the Secretary of the state of Georgia.
A statement of claim must be filed by the litigant at the clerk’s office of the Magistrate’s Court with a detailed description of the charges brought against the defendant. The claim can be filed in Gwinnett County only if the defendant lives in the county. In case the defendant is a corporate, the claim has to be filed in the county of the company’s registered agent, who handles such cases on behalf of the company.
After the claim is filed, the defendant will be served a copy of the claim and summons for appearing before the court, on behalf of the Magistrate’s Court by the constable, sheriff or process server. In return, the server shall have to submit a proof of the service of the summons to the court clerk. The defendant has to give a verbal or written response to summons of the court within 30 days, failing which the litigant can ask for a default judgment in his favor. The hearing is usually scheduled 15 to 30 days after the defendant’s answer.
For more information regarding filing of small claims cases visit http://www.georgia.gov/00/article/0,2086,5426814_39039081_39334516,00.html or