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North Carolina Small Claims Court Representation

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How much do you charge?

For most cases, we charge a $1,000 flat fee for small claims court representation. We also charge $125 for an initial consultation. If you hire us, we will subtract the consultation charge from our flat fee.

To sue someone, you must file a complaint with the court. We will draft and file your complaint for no additional charge. If you are being sued, you are not required to file any papers with the court.

Our flat fee does not include court and service costs, which consist of the following:
  • The court charges a $96 filing fee to file a complaint.
  • When you file a complaint, you must serve it to the person you are suing. In other words, you must make sure they receive a copy of it. The sheriff will charge $30 to serve your complaint.
  • If you want to bring a witness to court, you may need to subpoena them. We will draft the subpoena at no additional charge. Once drafted, however, it must be served on the witness. This is typically accomplished by hiring a process server, which usually costs around $100.
Do you take cases in my county?

We represent people and entities in small claims court in Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Lincoln, and Gaston counties. We may consider working in other counties for an additional cost. We are licensed only in North Carolina.

If I am suing a person or entity, where must I file my lawsuit?

If you are suing a person, you must file your lawsuit in the county where that person lives. If you are suing a business or some other entity, you must file your lawsuit in the county where it has its principle office or where its registered agent is located. If you are unsure, we can usually determine this quickly with a fair degree of accuracy over the phone before you schedule an appointment.

What kind of lawsuits can I bring in small claims court?

The most common small claims court lawsuits are for monies owed, breach of contract, property damage, landlord tenant disputes, and conversion (wrongful possession or sale of another person’s property). Other claims exist. If you are unsure whether a particular matter is appropriate for small claims court, we will advise you over the phone before we schedule an appointment with you.

Do I need an attorney for small claims court?
In North Carolina, you are not required to have an attorney represent you in small claims court. However, hiring one typically has a number of advantages:
  • Most people struggle to make good, clear arguments under pressure in a formal setting with strangers watching them and a judge peering down on them. Having an attorney represent you can remove that pressure and help apply additional pressure to your opponent.
  • Small claims courts are run by magistrate judges who oftentimes have not gone to law school. Having an attorney present to explain the finer points of the law when necessary can be the difference between winning and losing.
  • Lawyers will typically know how to present your claim or defense much more persuasively than you do. We know what is relevant and meaningful and can put your claim or defense in the best possible light.
  • Although evidentiary rules are quite relaxed in small claims court, some lines just should not be crossed. Unfortunately, if you don’t object to such evidence, there is nothing stopping a judge from considering it. A knowledgable attorney can protect your rights.
  • Non-lawyers are notoriously bad at examining witnesses on the stand. This can make or break a case.
  • Many people are just flat-out unprepared for their day in court. A good attorney will be well organized and well prepared. And if your opponent is unprepared, you can maximize your chance of success by having a skilled attorney there with you.
How does small claims court work?

North Carolina has two civil courts: district court and superior court. If a civil claim is less than $25,000, it is filed in district court. If a civil claim is more than $25,000, it is filed in superior court. Small claims court is a part of the district court. If a civil claim is less than $10,000, you can file it either in small claims court or district court. You can also file claims worth more than $10,000 in small claims court, but you cannot ask for more than $10,000.

Should I file my lawsuit in district court or small claims court?

Due to economics, it is usually best to file lawsuits in small claims court. If you sue someone in district court for less than $10,000, and they actually fight it, there is a good chance you will pay an attorney more than what you are suing for. Likewise, if you are being sued in district court for less than $10,000, it is oftentimes best to settle even meritless claims against you because it will generally cost you more money to hire a lawyer to defend you. This is because, unlike small claims court, district court cases usually require or involve pleadings, motions, discovery, court hearings, settlement negotiations, mediation, and sometimes jury trials: all of which are complex and time consuming. Granted, you can represent yourself in district court. However, even basic litigation over simple claims can be markedly complicated for non-lawyers and result in a poor outcome and even sanctions. On the other hand, in small claims court, a complaint form is filed and served, and you simply show up on your scheduled court date with your evidence.

If my opponent loses in small claims court, can’t they just appeal to the district court?

Yes. Either party can appeal a small claims court ruling within 20 days (in most cases) for $150. If this occurs, the case will start over in district court as if it were filed there in the first place, and the small claims court judgment will not take effect. That being said, few small claims judgments are ever appealed. This is another reason why it usually makes sense to file lawsuits in small claims court whenever possible. This is also why it is so important to do everything you can to win your small claims court case or defend yourself against one.

Can I settle before my small claims court hearing?

Yes. If that is something you want to try to do, we will attempt to negotiate a settlement with the other party on your behalf. This service is included in our flat fee. In some cases, this may be strongly advisable. In any event, whether you ultimately decide to settle a claim is entirely up to you, not your attorney. However, if you want us to write and mail a demand letter to the other party prior to filing a lawsuit in small claims court in an attempt to settle the matter, we charge $200 for this. Note that you are not required to send your opponent a demand letter prior filing a lawsuit. Also note that we will write a demand letter only if a valid legal claim exists and you are seriously considering filing a lawsuit.

Do I need to be present during the hearing?

If you sue someone and fail to show up to court, the magistrate will typically dismiss your lawsuit. If you are being sued and fail to appear, the court will generally have the hearing without you. And the odds that your opponent will win will increase dramatically (even if their claim is frivolous). If you have a good reason that you cannot be there and need to reschedule the hearing, you can ask the court for a continuance.

Am I required to meet with you in person during our initial consultation?

We always prefer to meet with prospective clients face to face. If you absolutely cannot do this, we will agree to have our initial consultation with you via Skype or FaceTime.

Contact Small Claims Court Attorney Robert Servatius

If you need to sue a person or business in small claims court, or if you are being sued in small claims court, contact the Carolina Collection Law Firm today at 704-529-9600 for a case evaluation. All information you share with us is kept strictly confidential even if you choose not to hire us.

Additional Resources

We have included these links to external webpages for your convenience only. By visiting them, you agree that we neither endorse nor guarantee the information they provide.

North Carolina Small Claims Court Statutes

North Carolina Judicial Branch: Small Claims

North Carolina Department of Justice: Small Claims North Carolina Small Claims Court


The material contained on this page including any links to external websites are for informational purposes only. It should not be taken or construed as legal advice and should not be relied upon to resolve your legal situation. Furthermore, nothing on this page or website creates an attorney-client relationship with you and our firm. If you have any questions or need legal advice, contact an attorney in your jurisdiction.