small claims court
Okay so have you ever met with situation where someone screws you out of money and you think to yourself, “I’ll sue them.”
But after you settle down reality kicks in – you can’t possibly afford an attorney. Or you find an attorney who down-plays your case to cover his ass. The first thing out of every attorney’s mouth is: “If this goes to court I can’t guarantee you will win.” Believe me I have been there. So I want to offer advice.
First off: People who are going to make money off you lie. <;- Sear this into your brain.
Second: People who lie rarely put things in writing. Some will provide contracts but then they have you sign first, but they themselves never sign. (I’ve seen this trick in construction and employment)
So here is what you do, try to guard yourself against the two items listed above.
Say you have some work that needs to be done at your house. Take a notebook and date and time stamp everything that is said, no matter how trivial you think it may be. Little details will jogged your memory as time passes and it makes your record keeping more believable.
Set up your phone to record conversations. I have a cell only so I am currently looking for a way to do this. ( any apps out there? if not I will develop one)
I remember once I taped a lawyer from a huge firm, who said to me,” we really f*ck up your case.” It didn’t matter that this recording never saw the light of a court room, it was enter into a court doc and filed which made it public record. They dropped all fees right there and then, that is all we wanted.
Just recently a person on the phone asked if they were being taped before saying some very incriminating statements. (note: ANYONE who asks if they are being recorded is about to tell you the truth.) Of coarse I wasn’t taping him, I was ill prepared. If you are taping anyone do not admit it. It may not be admissible in a court of law, but the proof is there and that proof alone will spark a settlement without going to court. If nothing else remember you can always go viral with the tape.
Another tip is ALWAYS have someone with you for discussions if possible. Witnesses are very powerful. Plus they can help you recall details.
Okay, so if you just got screwed, whether you have a lot of proof or just a little proof, take your complaint to small claims court. The courthouse in my town makes this very easy. Your local municipal court should have similar forms and instructions available. If not , use these two docs: 1. instructions 2. claim form, as a reference and make your own. The worst that can happen is the court will correct you and provide guidance. The cost to file a small claim here is 65.00, .05 cents for copies and they will notarize on the spot.
I always remember those sh*tty landlords that wouldn’t refund my rent deposit. I never fought for return of my security deposit. I didn’t know how.
The limit for small claims is thee thousand dollars, that’s way better than nothing. And you will not rack up any lawyer fees. So if you win or lose at least you tried to get you money back.
If you are in a position where you need help regarding family law. Do it your self. Believe me divorce lawyers want to keep you in court and fighting as long as possible. The more you disagree, or the more a lawyer leads you to believe you can get XYZ, the more money that lawyer makes.
The moral of the story, you don’t need a lawyer and you don’t have to take getting screwed.
Fight for yourself, you are the only one who truly cares.
OOPS! ****Forgot this important tip. Make a paper trail that shows you attempted to resolve the matter before you go to court. It always looks good to the judge if you can prove you made an effort to avoid his/her courtroom.
Tip: Stick with facts and stay calm and always be polite in correspondence.
Inspiration: “A lawyer with his briefcase can steal more than a hundred men with guns.” – Don Corleone, in The Godfather – Mario Puzo
One-day one-thing: Organize important documents. This may be a repeat, but with tax time, I have new docs to organize. It’s never stop