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A Complete Guide to Small Claims Court St. Louis MO


St Louis personal injury Specialists

Facing a case in the small claims court in St. Louis? Our comprehensive guide gives you insights, procedures, and why Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien is here to assist. Give us a call today.

Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien have been a trusted law firm serving Missourians for over 40 years.

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Role of the Small Claims Court

Missouri small claims court is available to individuals seeking to resolve civil disputes involving $5,000.00 or less in claims. While many individuals choose to represent themselves in a small claims action, navigating the small claims court in St. Louis requires informed decisions.

Small claims courts have their own judicial processes and rules. An experienced attorney can help you understand court rules, the process for filing your claim or your response if you are the person sued.

The attorneys at Buchanan, Williams & O’Brien, P.C. are here to assist you with all your personal injury claims. Big or small. Our attorneys have experience handling small claims cases and we can assist you with your small claims court filing.

For personalized guidance on your small claims action, reach out to a personal injury lawyer in St. Louis.

Role of the Small Claims Court sect

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What Is Small Claims Court?

Small claims court is a specialized court for handling minor civil disputes. It is a division of the Missouri Circuit Courts, the trial courts for the state. Cases brought in the Small Claims Division are handled with simplified procedures and limited jurisdiction.

The Missouri Court System

The Missouri court system consists of multiple levels and divisions. Each level has its own jurisdiction and function. The small claims courts are a division of the circuit courts. The courts above the circuit courts are appellate courts that determine whether the trial court made a legal error.

Missouri Court Hierarchy

The hierarchy of courts in Missouri is:

  • Missouri Supreme Court

  • Court of Appeals

  • Circuit Courts

    • Small Claims Courts

Types of Cases Heard by the Small Claims Court St. Louis MO

Missouri small claims courts manage civil cases regarding minor financial disagreements and help individuals resolve their disputes affordably. Claims heard in this court cannot exceed $5,000.00.

Common claims heard in small claims courts include:

  • Landlord-tenant disputes: Disputes over rent payments or damages.

  • Debt collection: Claims for unpaid bills or loans.

  • Contract disputes: Claims that another party breached a contract by failing to comply with the terms of the agreement.

  • Auto accidents and other personal injury claims: Property damage or small personal injury claims where you can sue the car insurance company or person responsible for the accident.

  • Consumer complaints: Claims that a product or service was defective or misrepresented.

  • Employment issues: Disputes over termination, unpaid wages or overtime.

  • Property damage: Claims for damage to personal property or disputes over responsibility for costs.

What Is Small Claims Court

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Navigating Small Claims Court

Small claims courts are an efficient way to handle disputes. The courts also offer various ways to track the status of your case, including an online case search tool.

How to Use the Online Case Search Tool

The online case search tool allows you to efficiently find information regarding the status of your claim, including the date, time and location of hearings.

You can find out information about your small claims case by:

  1. Going to the court’s website: Open your web browser and navigate to the official website of the Missouri Courts.
  2. Locating the case search: Navigate to the link labeled “Search for a Case.”
  3. Entering case details: Enter the required information. This may be the case number, party names or other identifiers. Then click the search button feature.
  4. Reviewing case information: Once the search is complete, find and click on your case to access detailed information regarding your case.

Where Is the St. Louis Small Claims Court Located?

The small claims court is located in the St. Louis County Courthouse at 105 South Central Avenue, Clayton, MO 63105.

The Court is open during normal business hours, Monday to Friday, from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

How Do I Contact the Court Clerk for Information?

The court clerk plays a crucial role in the court’s administrative functions. They assist parties, attorneys, judges, and the public with case filings, records maintenance, and research on past and present cases.

You can contact the St. Louis County court clerk via telephone at 314-615-8029.

How Does One File a Claim in the Small Claims Court in St. Louis, MO?

Filing a claim in the Small Claims Court in St. Louis, MO, involves a straightforward process, primarily handled by the circuit court designed to resolve minor legal disputes efficiently.

To file suit, an individual (plaintiff) must complete a claim form available at the local circuit court office, detailing the nature of the claim and the amount sought. The form requires precise information about the defendant (the person or entity being sued) and an explanation of the dispute.

After completing the form, the plaintiff pays a filing fee, which varies depending on the amount of the claim. This fee is essential for the court to process the case.

Once the claim is filed, the court issues a summons to the defendant, typically served via certified mail or by a sheriff or process server, informing them of the lawsuit and the hearing date.

The defendant has the opportunity to respond to the claim, and both parties are encouraged to gather and prepare to present evidence supporting their cases.

The Small Claims Court offers a less formal environment than other courtrooms, but the basic legal principles still apply, and the judge’s decisions are binding.

What Types of Disputes are Commonly Resolved in the Small Claims Court in St. Louis, MO?

The Small Claims Court in St. Louis, MO, is designed to handle a variety of minor legal disputes efficiently and cost-effectively. Common types of disputes include but are not limited to:

  • Contract disputes: Issues arising from the breach of written or oral agreements.

  • Property damage: Cases involving damage to property due to accidents or negligence.

  • Landlord-tenant disputes: Including security deposit returns and minor lease disagreements.

  • Small debts: Claims for unpaid loans or bills.

  • Consumer complaints: Disputes over the sale or repair of goods and services.

This court simplifies the legal process, allowing individuals to file suit without the need for an attorney, making it accessible for resolving small-scale disputes. The aim is to provide a forum where parties can present evidence and obtain a fair, quick resolution to their conflicts.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer for Small Claims Court?

Small claims court procedures differ from other courts, making the court more accessible to individuals who wish to represent themselves. However, it can still be beneficial to hire a lawyer to represent you in your case.

The Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer for Your Case

Professional legal assistance can improve your chances of a favorable outcome. Lawyers have professional training and education that can increase your chances of success when filing a small claim. This is particularly true in small claims personal injury cases where the facts, law, and evidence can be more complex.

Besides their trial skills and legal abilities, lawyers have certain procedural knowledge that comes with experience. A lawyer can ensure all forms are filed, deadlines are met, and compliance with court rules.

The Risks of Representing Yourself in Court

While small claims court is designed to be more accessible to pro se litigants, there are still challenges to representing yourself in court.

Common challenges include:

  • Researching and understanding the law and procedures.

  • Effectively representing yourself at trial and presenting your case.

  • Negotiating a fair settlement with the other party, particularly if they have legal representation.

  • Procedural errors like filing incorrect documents or missing deadlines. These errors can result in your claim being dismissed or other unfavorable rulings.

  • Emotional stress from handling your own case, affecting decision-making during critical stages of the process.

Contact Buchanan Williams & O’Brien, P.C. Today

The small claims process in Missouri small claims court can be stressful. If you plan to file a small claims suit, you need to be informed and prepared. Our attorneys can provide legal guidance, advice, and representation, increasing your chances of success.

Let our experienced attorneys help you navigate the complexity of your small claims case. Contact us at Buchanan Williams & O’Brien today for a consultation, and let our client-centric approach work for you.

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