The civil court system exists to help resolve disputes, some of which involve large amounts of money and very complicated claims that require careful consideration and sometimes even a trial before a judge or a jury. Occasionally, though, disputes are small, too small to warrant the expense and effort of bringing a matter before the civil court system in Nevada.
The state has created Small Claims Courts in counties across Nevada to ensure the system doesn’t overlook plaintiffs with smaller disputes. You may be wondering, what are Small Claims Courts, and how do they work? Our De Castroverde Law Group team has put together this short guide to help answer your questions.
What Is Small Claims Court?
Small Claims Courts in Nevada and across the country provide a platform for resolving these minor monetary disputes. Generally speaking, Small Claims Courts have limited authority, as judges only hear cases with smaller monetary requests. The judge’s responsibilities are also limited to determining whether the plaintiff should receive an award. The end goal of Small Claims Courts is to narrow down the areas of dispute and to simplify rules of evidence or other aspects of court procedures to allow for quick decisions that generally don’t warrant the expense of an attorney.
Though simplified, the procedures involved in small claims lawsuits proceed similarly to civil cases. They can present legal and factual arguments and evidence supporting their positions. This evidence may be testimony but is generally documentary, including contracts, receipts, or photographs.
How Much Can You Sue for in Small Claims Court?
Small Claims Court aims to streamline the resolution of smaller civil lawsuits. Filing a full-fledged lawsuit can be time-consuming and expensive for all involved, including the Court. Often, it doesn’t make sense to file a case when the damages involved are so minor. In Nevada, a case qualifies for Small Claims Court if the requested damages fall under $10,000.
Compared to other states, Nevada’s statutory cut-off for small claims cases is middle-of-the-road. Some states limit small claims cases to less than $2,500, while others go as high as $25,000.
Common Types of Small Claims Lawsuits
Small claims cases can involve any subject matter. Generally, one of the most significant disputes in small claims litigation revolves around collecting the proceeds of an unpaid debt. In that instance, plaintiffs must establish that a debt was owed and then prove that it hasn’t been paid to obtain a judgment. Other common types of small claims cases are as follows:
- Landlord-tenant disputes over the return of security deposits or unpaid rent.
- Car accident cases that result in small amounts of medical costs.
- Failure to refund money for not correctly repairing a car or an appliance.
- Minor property damage.
Do You Need a Lawyer for Small Claims Court?
Small Claims Court proceedings are designed to minimize the need for an attorney. Procedures are simplified, and the subject matters for discussion are limited. For instance, Small Claims Courts can only issue monetary damages; judges can’t provide other types of relief, such as issuing orders for someone to return property or interpreting the meaning of a contract. In Nevada, local justice courts and justices of the peace have jurisdiction over small claims matters.
However, the law doesn’t prohibit retaining an attorney to represent you. In many instances, it may make sense to do so. For example, attorneys can help review the facts of your case, highlight necessary evidence to be gathered, and present your case to the justice of the peace. An attorney can also help you understand the process and advise you on other ways, if needed, to obtain justice.
One crucial note: If you use an attorney, you’ll pay the costs yourself. Under Nevada law, the losing party isn’t required to pay the winning party’s legal fees. Keep this in mind when considering the benefits of hiring an attorney.
Can You Appeal Small Claims Court Decisions?
Attorneys can also help in the event you wish to file an appeal to the District Court. There’s no time to waste. Generally, in Nevada, the law grants five days from the date of a decision delivered in court to file an appeal; that period extends to eight days if the decision is returned by mail.
Parties filing an appeal will be required to post a bond for the appeal, which is generally $250 for the plaintiff and the amount of judgment for the defendant. Appealing parties also must pay for a transcript of the proceeding. Our attorneys will assist you in determining the grounds for your appeal and advise you on the prospects for success.
How Long Do You Have to File a Small Claims Case?
Like all civil lawsuits, small claims cases must be filed before the expiration of the statute of limitations covering the specific underlying matter. A statute of limitations gives plaintiffs a particular amount of time to file their lawsuits. If you file after the period of the specific statute of limitations, a court may decline to hear your case. Statutes of limitation in Nevada range from two years for personal injury and libel suits to three years for property damage, trespassing, and fraud to four years for collecting overdue rent.
Consult on Your Small Claim With De Castroverde Law Group
Understanding statutes of limitations and ensuring cases are filed in time can be challenging. The attorneys at De Castroverde Law Group will ensure that your small claims case meets all required deadlines and contains the evidence you need to prove your claim.
Our attorneys have extensive experience in personal injury litigation, including vehicle and boating accidents, slip and fall cases, dog bites, nursing home injuries, food poisoning, and wrongful death matters. We serve Las Vegas, Reno, and other areas in Nevada. We also have offices in Oakland, California. Our team consists of fierce advocates who will stand with you for justice. Call us or contact us online today for a consultation.