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Your Ultimate Guide on How to Sue a Big Company in Small Claims Court

Wondering how to sue a big company in small claims court without getting lost in legal jargon? Our guide is here to help, offering clear, actionable steps to take you from a frustrated claimant to a confident plaintiff. With pragmatic advice on documentation, filing, and courtroom conduct, you’ll learn everything required to present your case effectively and stand a fighting chance at justice.

Key Takeaways

  • Small claims courts are designed for fast and less formal legal resolutions, handling disputes typically up to $10,000, to recover money or property, but procedures and limitations can vary by jurisdiction.
  • Preparation for filing a small claim against a company includes understanding the statute of limitations for your claim, obtaining the correct legal name and registered agent of the company, and thoroughly collecting and organizing all pertinent evidence.
  • After filing a small claim, pre-trial processes may include mediation and setting up payment plans, and if successful, pursuing collection after a final judgment may involve legal tools such as writs of execution or hiring a collection agency.

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Understanding the Small Claims System in Miami

Small claims courts are a crucial part of our legal system, providing an avenue for individuals to seek justice in monetary disputes, landlord-tenant disagreements, unfulfilled contracts, and property return cases. These courts typically handle cases with monetary limits of around $10,000 or less, although specific limits can vary by state. The small claims court judge serves as a fast and less formal alternative to the superior court, designed to recover money or property while avoiding the complex and lengthy procedures of higher courts. In the end, a small claims judgment is reached, providing a resolution for the involved parties.

However, it’s important to note that practical variations exist across different jurisdictions. Procedures may differ across counties, and certain limitations apply, such as claimants needing to be at least 18 years of age or representing minors, with claims not exceeding specific amounts, like $8,000 in Florida.

Preparing to File Your Small Claim Against a Large Company

Before you step into court, it’s crucial to understand the statute of limitations. This is a prescribed period within which you must file your claim, depending on the type of dispute and the state. Failing to file within this period can lead to your case being dismissed, regardless of its merits.

It’s also essential to know the correct legal name and the registered agent of the company you’re suing. This information can be obtained by contacting the relevant state department or division.

Identifying the Right Entity

Registered agents are appointed by businesses as the company’s official point of contact for legal matters, including lawsuits. To find a large company’s registered agent, you can use the state’s Secretary of State website for a business entity search, seeking the company’s name in public business filings.

However, if online business entity searches are not available in your state, you’ll need to contact the state’s filing office directly with the precise name of the company to get the registered agent’s information.

Documentation and Evidence Collection

As the plaintiff, it’s your responsibility to prove your case, and this requires substantial evidence. This could include:

  • Contracts
  • Receipts
  • Warranties
  • Correspondence
  • Photographs
  • Any other materials relevant to the dispute

It’s also essential to include any written correspondence or electronic communications with the company to support your case.

Remember, when preparing your evidence for court proceedings, it is important to:

  • Organize all documents in a logical sequence
  • Ensure witnesses are ready to authenticate documents
  • Document any attempts to resolve the dispute with the company before court action, as this demonstrates good faith efforts to the judge.

Filing the Small Claims Lawsuit

Filing fees for small claims cases are tiered, depending on the amount of your claim. For example, for claims under $100, you’ll pay a $55 filing fee, while for claims over $2,501, the fee is $300. Although these costs are an upfront expense, they are non-refundable. However, they can potentially be recovered from the defendant if you win the case, along with any applicable service fee.

Completing and Submitting Forms

To initiate your small claims action, you must file a ‘Statement of Claim’ with the clerk in the appropriate county court. This form, provided by the Clerk’s office, must be filled out and signed to receive a pre-trial conference date.

Serving the Defendant Properly

After filing the Statement of Claim, it’s essential to properly serve the other party (defendant) with a summons and notice to appear in court, along with a copy of the Statement of Claim. This ensures that the defendant is aware of the legal action being taken against them.

If the business is incorporated, the summons should be served to a corporate officer or the registered agent, whose information can be obtained from the state’s Division of Corporations. For non-incorporated businesses, the owner’s full name and address are required for service.

Navigating Pre-Trial Procedures

Pre-trial conferences in small claims courts are informal meetings to establish if there is a cause of action that may lead to mediation. Many states provide mediators for this purpose. If the dispute is resolved in mediation, it can be approved by the judge promptly; if not, a trial date is set.

During the pre-trial hearing, the judge can establish a payment plan if the parties agree that the defendant owes money. The plaintiff can request a final judgment if the payment plan is not followed.

Representing Yourself in Court

When your court date arrives, thorough preparation is crucial. Review the guide on the court system’s website for non-attorneys, arrive early to check in, and prepare your opening statement and evidence beforehand.

Remember to maintain a respectful demeanor in court by being polite to all parties, avoiding arguments, and honestly presenting all facts of your case to the judge. Dress professionally and appear at trial with all documentation and witnesses ready to present your case clearly and succinctly.

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After the Judge Decides: Collecting Your Judgment

After the judge decides your case, a Final Judgment is issued. This is a binding document that stipulates one party’s obligation to pay another. To collect the awarded amount, legal tools such as writs of execution, garnishment, or attachment may be necessary.

If a debtor fails to pay or hides assets, various steps can be taken:

  • Assess if pursuing the money is worthwhile
  • Use a formal request letter to warn about the impact on their credit report to encourage payment
  • Hire a fee-based collection agency

When Things Don’t Go as Planned

There might be situations when things don’t go as planned. For instance, if the opposing party, a defendant, does not appear at a small claims pre-trial hearing, the judge may enter a default judgment against them, resulting in a Final Judgment document that specifies the amount of damages to be recovered.

Sometimes, a post-judgment process may be necessary before collecting the awarded judgment, and in some cases, securing an attorney from J. Muir & Associates is recommended, especially when dealing with attorney fees.


Taking a big company to a small claims court may seem daunting, but with the right knowledge and preparation, it’s entirely possible. This guide has walked you through each step of the process, from understanding the small claims system and preparing your case to representing yourself in court and collecting your judgment. So, next time you feel wronged by a corporation, remember that you have the power to stand up for your rights. Contact J. Muir & Associates today to find out how we can help you with your small claims court case!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the most you can sue a company for?

You can sue a company for an unlimited amount, as some cases are not quantified until all evidence is heard at trial. Keep in mind that the amount claimed depends on the specifics of the case.

How long do you have to take someone to small claims court in Florida?

In Florida, the time limit to take someone to small claims court varies depending on the specific circumstances of the case, and ranges from one to five years, as outlined in Chapter 95.11 of the Florida Statutes.

How do I find the registered agent of a company?

To find the registered agent of a company, you can utilize the state’s Secretary of State website for a business entity search or contact the state’s filing office with the company’s exact name.

What types of evidence are admissible in small claims court?

In small claims court, admissible evidence includes contracts, receipts, warranties, correspondence, photographs, and relevant materials. These types of evidence can strengthen your case and support your claims.

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