If you have been injured in an accident which you think was caused by someone else’s actions or because of negligence, you may be worried about how you are going to cope if you have to pay unexpected bills. If you are considering claiming compensation from whoever you consider responsible, you may decide to make your claim through the small claims court. This is a reasonable decision if you have already drawn a blank directly communicating with those at fault and you are only going to claim money as compensation.
Using a small claims court can be cheaper, faster and simpler than using a regular civil court, but whichever process you ultimately decide on, you must be well prepared.
Before you go to court, there are several steps involved. To notify the court of your intention to sue an individual or other party, you will need to make sure you can identify exactly who they are. This means the name of the individual(s) and the correct name of the business or government body that you are going to name as defendants in your lawsuit.
Before the court appearance you will need to make sure you have available all the documentation that will help you win your case. If you miss out a vital piece of evidence, you may have your case dismissed and you will end up losing out on compensation as well as paying all the costs associated with the court appearance.
The court, and the defendant’s insurer, will be most likely to be impressed if you have exact evidence of all the costs of your injury(ies). In particular, this means:
- All medical costs, including predicted future costs
- Lost wages or other income due to not being available to work
- The cost of any repairs, e.g. to your vehicle if you had a vehicle accident.
Sometimes, the defendant may try to claim that your injuries were not caused by the accident, but existed beforehand. For this reason, it is useful to have your medical records for the last few years available for inspection.
Evidence of the actual accident in the form of photos taken at the time, witness statements and any other evidence that will help prove your case will be extremely valuable.
You will need to prepare why you think the defendant(s) you have named were responsible for the accident that you had and why you think they were negligent.
You will need to have an amount in mind which you think is sufficient to cover the costs of your injuries and is also within the maximum amount allowed by the small claims court you file the suit with.
You may need witnesses to make an audio statement, especially if they cannot attend the hearing in person. You will need to make sure that any equipment needed for audio or video testimonies are available in court.
You will need to remind any witnesses of the date and time of the court hearing in advance and also make sure that you are available. Usually, a postponement is only possible if you are likely to be out of the country on that date or in an emergency.
Use a Personal Attorney to Help Prepare for a Small Claim Appearance
You do not need to use an attorney in a small claims court, but it can help you be better prepared before the hearing. The experience of a PI attorney is invaluable as he or she will have dealt with many cases which are similar to yours before.