Sometimes victims forego valid legal claims because they simply don’t know where to begin. Our legal system can appear daunting at times. One common question is: “Where do I file my claim?” Here’s a quick primer.
Small Claims Court
In Nevada, small claims courts have jurisdiction to decide claims valued at $7,500 or less. Small claims cases are usually resolved quickly with minimal procedural obstacles and no attorneys. The typical process is: (1) fill out a complaint setting forth reasons why you’re entitled to relief; (2) file your complaint with the correct court (usually where the defendant resides); (3) have someone over the age of 18 personally serve a copy of the complaint on the defendant; (4) await the defendant’s answer, if any; and (5) present your case to the judge at the scheduled hearing (a lengthy topic for another article).
Justice courts have jurisdiction to decide claims valued at $10,000 or less. The justice court process is similar to the small claims process. However, justice court rules are more stringent, and resolution of the case usually takes much longer (sometimes up to a year or more). This gives the parties time to exchange relevant information and to more fully prepare for a formal trial. For these reasons, the help of an experienced attorney is usually advisable.
District courts are home to all other claims (those valued in excess of $10,000). The district court process is much more complex, full of procedural hurdles, deadlines and potential pitfalls, and often takes 2 to 3 years or more to complete. Accordingly, assistance from a competent attorney is vital.
Choosing the right court is only one of many decisions on the pathway to justice. But it can make a huge difference in the amount of time, money, emotion, and energy you spend along the way. A good attorney will point you in the right direction.