Overview of Small Claims
Small claims court is a special division of the justice court. Small claims court is designed to help parties who do not have attorneys resolve their disputes quickly and inexpensively. In small claims court, claims must be less than $10,000. Small claims judges can only award money judgments. That means the judge can only order the other side to pay money (up to $10,000). The judge cannot order the other side to do something (like return a car or a dog) or stop doing something (like playing loud music).
Generally, the “parties” (the person suing and the person being sued) in small claims court represent themselves. This is called appearing "pro se" or "in proper person." Attorneys are allowed in small claims court. But the winning party in a small claims case cannot collect attorney's fees from the losing party. So a party who hires an attorney will be responsible for paying that attorney. Because parties generally represent themselves, the procedures and rules of evidence in small claims court are more relaxed than in ordinary justice court.
TIP! You can attend a small claims class for FREE! The classes are presented in both English and Spanish. You’ll receive a class manual and some great tips to help you succeed in your case. For more information, click to visit Free Classes.
Below is a short video, Introduction to Small Claims Court. Remember that different small claims courts have different procedures, so make sure you're complying with your court's requirements. To watch the entire small claims video series, click to visit our Videos page.
The small claims video series was made possible thanks to a grant from the State Bar of Nevada's Lawyer Referral and Information Service.
To verify how a small claims case moves through the different justice courts, click on one of the flowcharts below:
Flowchart – Overview of the Small Claims Process
Flowchart - Overview of Small Claims Process in Las Vegas
Q&A – Small Claims Overview
What should I consider before I file a small claims case?
Rushing down to the courthouse to file a lawsuit should not be your first step. While there are many advantages to small claims court, it is not always the best solution to every problem. Even though the rules are more relaxed and the procedures less complex than regular court, filing a small claims case will take some effort. A good deal of planning and even some legal research might be necessary.
Before you file a small claims case, you should evaluate your answers to the following questions:
Do I have a good case?
Am I willing to invest the time and energy?
Do I want money, or do I want something other than money?
Is my claim for less than $10,000?
Have I attempted to settle or mediate my claim?
Has my time to file my claim expired?
Can I locate the "defendant" (the person or company I want to sue)?
Can I prove my case?
If I win, will I be able to collect any money from the losing party?
For some additional considerations, click to visit Representing Yourself In Court.
TIP! If you are considering filing a small claims case, you may be interested in taking advantage of a FREE time-saving alternative called the Neighborhood Justice Center (NJC). The NJC's personalized, no-cost mediation service may help you resolve the dispute more quickly than through the court. Click to visit Mediating a Small Claims Dispute for more information
Where can I get more information and instruction about small claims cases?
To learn about small claims court, click to browse the Small Claims section of this website. You will find information about:
Suing Someone in Small Claims
Being Sued in Small Claims
Mediating a Small Claims Dispute
Going to Small Claims Court
Appealing a Small Claims Judgment
Collecting a Small Claims Judgment or Contesting Collection
You can also sign up for a FREE small claims class that is offered in both English and Spanish. Click to visit Free Classes for class times, locations, and sign-up information.
You might also be able to obtain information directly from the justice court in which you are filing your case. For links and contact information for the justice courts, click to visit Justice Courts.
FYI! The Las Vegas Justice Court small claims procedures and forms are different than the other justice courts in Clark County. If you have a small claims case in Las Vegas, be sure to familiarize yourself with those procedures and use only those forms. This website tries to highlight any difference, but you can also click to visit the Las Vegas Justice Court Small Claims page.
Where can I find forms for my small claims case?
In order to help parties in small claims cases better represent themselves, the courts have created forms for most of the documents you will need in your case. These forms are available for free at the Self-Help Center, or they can be downloaded from this website. Click to visit Small Claims Forms to see the available forms.
If you have a small claims case in the Las Vegas Justice Court, that court has developed its own small claims forms and procedures, which differ from the other justice courts in Clark County. Make sure you are using the forms under Las Vegas Small Claims Forms. Henderson also has some of its own forms, so make sure that if you have a case in Henderson Justice Court, you use the forms specific to Henderson, which can be found under Henderson, North Las Vegas, and Other Small Claims Forms.
You might also be able to obtain forms directly from the justice court in which you are filing your case. For links and contact information for the justice courts, click to visit Justice Courts.
CAUTION! There are businesses that will try to sell you court forms. Often these forms are the same forms that are available for free on the court website. They might also be outdated or unacceptable to the court. Before you pay for forms, check to see if they are already available online or at the Self-Help Center.