Filing a Small Claim
A claim up to $5,000, not including costs, interest and attorney’s fees, can be filed with the Clerk of Courts as a Small Claims Action (Rule 7.010 of the Florida Rules of Court).
Take note that filing a Small Claims Action should be your last resort. You should do all you can to resolve your dispute with the other party out of court. Communicate verbally and in writing the nature of your complaint to the other party to try to resolve the dispute.
If you decide to file a Small Claims Action because you are unable to resolve the dispute, the process is rather simple and inexpensive. Lawyers.com has a helpful article on filing a small claim.
If you go on the Clerk of Courts website for the county where you are filing the small claim (the claim must be filed in the county where the defendant resides), you will find all the necessary forms for filing a Small Claim Action. They will also list the fees for filing. Many counties also have an online portal through which to file your claim. These online portals walk you through the process, making filing a claim less of a hassle.
First, you will file a Statement of Claim with the Clerk of the Court in the appropriate county and attach any supporting documents to the statement of claim. When filling in the claim, do not worry about the case number. The court will provide that once you file the claim. You are the plaintiff. Fill in your full name, address and phone number; and then fill in the defendant(s) name, address and phone number. If you are suing a corporation, the officer’s name representing the corporation is required; if you claim is against a sole proprietorship, the name of the owner is needed. Make sure everything is legible. Also, do not sign your claim, as you will sign it before the notary when you file the claim.
If you file the claim through an eportal, you will upload the statement of claim (which must be notarized) and supporting documents. All fees associated with filing and serving the summons will be automatically calculated on the portal. If there is no portal available for your county, then you need to check the county’s clerk of the court website for information on where to file the small claim. You will bring the Statement of Claim, along with supporting documents to one of listed locations Make sure you bring additional copies of your supporting documents for each defendant being served, or they will charge you $1 for each page they have to copy. Also, bring a check, as the court charges a fee if you use a debit or credit card. After the claim is filed, the court will serve the defendant(s) a summons.
The court will probably schedule an initial pretrial conference and also order the parties to mediation to resolve problems. Note that once the claim has been filed, a pre-trial hearing will be held at the location where the Statement of Claim was filed. Defendants may file counterclaims, set-offs, or third party complaints as provided in the Florida Small Claims Rules. Practice and procedure may vary from county to county. The clerk of court in the county where the action is filed should be contacted for local practices and procedures.