Citizen's Guide: Small Claims Court - How To Bring An Action In Small Claims Court

Step 1: Try To Settle

Your demand letter should include:

  1. a summary of the facts;
  2. what you see as the damages; and
  3. a clear request that the other party pay up by a certain date.

Be sure to include your contact information (phone/fax numbers, e-mail, etc.).

If you reach an agreement, write down terms of settlement. In exchange for paying you the money, the other party may ask you to sign a "release", giving up further claims against him.

If all this is too overwhelming, seek the help of a mediator or arbitrator. Many cases sent from the courtroom to a mediator do get resolved. You can usually find a mediator through the clerk's office of your local court, and some jurisdictions mandate mediation as part of their own procedural process.