What Type of Case Can I Resolve in Small Claims Court?
Small claims court in Pennsylvania is known as Magisterial District Court. A Magisterial District Judge is referred to as an MDJ. The judges in small claims court are elected officials, but are not always judges with law degrees. They are sometimes retired police officers, carpenters, basketball coaches, secretaries, or lawyers. The opportunity to go to small claims court affords an individual a fair short at prosecuting or defending cases in front of judges who could be just like them. Small claims court provides a plaintiff the opportunity to sue for up to $12,000. If the claim is above $12,000, then it has to be handled at the County level referred to as “the Court of Common Pleas”.
Small claims can be:
- Repayment of a loan
- Failure to perform a service
- Return of a security deposit
- Products damaged during service
- Personal injury such as dog bites
- Failure to meet terms of contract
There is a time limit to when you can file a lawsuit in small claims court. For example, the statute of limitations on contract disputes is 4 years while for personal injuries it is 2 years. The statute of limitations is how much time after an situation occurs you have to file a suit. The statute of limitations can stop and restart depending on the situation, which can make determining the statute of limitations tricky. Contact an attorney to help calculate your statute of limitations.
Once a case is filed, it will be heard in front of a judge in the Magisterial District Court. The plaintiff will have a moment to briefly describe their case and present witnesses. Then the defendant will have their turn. The judge will then make a decision either that day or within a few weeks. If you disagree with the decision, you have 30 days to appeal to the Court of Common Pleas.
Get The Guidance That You Need
For help with a civil matter whether it is at the Magisterial District Court level or Court of Common Pleas level, please give RICK LAW Reach us by phone at 610-850-9036 or send us an email inquiry for small claims representation or MDJ appeals.