Many accidents, incidents and injuries qualify as small claims in Las Vegas, Nevada. Small claims is a division of the civil justice court that resolves cases that are worth less than a certain amount quickly and efficiently. In Clark County, the small claims courts only take claims that are worth less than $10,000. Small claims is designed for people to be able to handle their own cases without needing an attorney, though you can hire an attorney if needed.
Identify the Defendant
During your small claims case, you (the filing party) will serve as the plaintiff and the person allegedly at fault for your damages will serve as the defendant. Identifying the defendant is one of the first steps you must take to file with the small claims court. You can determine the identity of the defendant by examining the facts of the accident or injury. If you have an injury from an auto accident, for example, examine who or what caused your collision. You may need to involve the police or investigators to get to the bottom of your case.
Send a Demand Letter to the Defendant
In Clark County, the Justice Courts require all plaintiffs to send demand letters to defendants before filing claims against them in the small claims court. The demand letter is a written document asking the defendant for a specific amount of compensation to resolve your case. It includes your information, a description of the incident and an amount you are seeking in damages. Send a demand letter to each defendant you plan on naming in your injury case. File your demand letter via mail and receive a return receipt. You must wait at least 10 days after you send a demand letter to file a complaint with the small claims court.
Access and File the Correct Forms
You may file a claim against a defendant in the small claims court if your claim is for money damages only and they are worth less than $10,000. The small claims court cannot take cases involving nonmonetary resolutions, such as someone returning your stolen bicycle. To file in Clark County, the defendant must live there, do business there or work there at the time you are filing the complaint. You must have information about the defendant if you wish to file, such as the party’s full name and physical address.
Most major cities within Clark County, including North Las Vegas and Henderson, have their own Justice Courts to take small claims. You must use the correct court’s forms to file your claim. You can access these forms online, download them, fill them out and submit them with the correct small claims court yourself or you can hire an attorney to handle the paperwork for you. A lawyer will know how to fill out small claims paperwork correctly the first time, potentially saving you time and money. You must either pay the filing fee or file for a fee waiver. The amount of the fee depends on the value of your claim.
Go to Court to Seek Fair Compensation
Upon filing your case with the small claims court, wait for the defendant to file an answer. The defendant may accept your demand letter and offer a settlement. The defendant may also refuse to take liability for your damages and challenge you in court instead. In this case, the court where you filed will send you a notice to appear at a mediation meeting or hearing. If the defendant does not file an answer within 20 days, you can request a default judgment from the small claims court. A default judgment means you do not have to prove the defendant’s fault to receive a monetary award.