Filing a Claim
Before filing a claim, you should have some idea what your chances are of collecting if you are awarded a judgment. A judgment does not mean automatic payment. There are often cases where the collection of money is difficult, if not impossible. The party you sued may be penniless or bankrupt; may have gone out of business or left town; may not earn enough for you to garnish wages; or for other reasons it may be impossible to make the defendant pay. Income such as welfare benefits, unemployment benefits, social security, etc. cannot be garnished.
Before coming to the court be sure you have the following:
- Bring all paperwork with the proper number of copies.
- The filing fee, plus service fee (see fee schedule). When filing by mail, send check or money order for filing fee made payable to the 31st District Court.
- Defendant's full and correct first and last name.
- Defendant's current address (route or post office box numbers are not sufficient when you want a process server to make personal services). If you furnish an incorrect address and the court officer attempts service, he or she is allowed by law to charge you for his or her time.
- Amount of claim and pertinent dates.
- A brief and concise statement detailing the nature of the claim. You have the responsibility to prove two things to the Court. First, liability: Why should the defendant be obligated to pay the money you claim? Second, damages: What is the exact amount of the money owed?
When the Claim is filed, a hearing date will be set in accordance with relevant statute and court rule.
The Defendant will be served in one of the two ways:
- A copy is left with them personally by a process server or any legally competent adult who is not a party or an officer of a corporate party.
- The notice is mailed by certified mail with a return receipt requested. If certified mail is not picked up by the defendant you may want to have a process server try to make service after a new hearing date is scheduled.