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Is it worth going to small claims for $2,000?

Camila Lopez - Small Claims Procedure - November 22, 2023

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    Small claims court is a court where small legal disputes are decided. We often receive the question, “Is it worth going to small claims for $2,000.” When deciding whether it’s worth it to sue someone in small claims for $2,000, consider asking yourself the following questions:

    1. What do I hope to get out of the case? 

    2. How much will it cost?

    3. How much time am I willing to put in?

    4. Is my evidence substantial enough?

    5. Will I be able to collect?

    6. What are my other options?

    So, is it worth going to small claims for $2,000?

    Short Answer: At a minimum, you should consider sending a demand letter as your first step to try to resolve the problem out of court.

    Did you know that People Clerk, can help you with filing, serving, and preparing your evidence for the small claims hearing? We also have a free tool to help you write a demand letter. Get Started.  

    Small Claims 101 

    To start, let's go over the basics of small claims. 

    Keep in mind that each state has a different process for small claims. 


    On average it costs between $10-$150 to sue in small claims (court filing fees + serving costs). 


    The deadline to sue is called the statute of limitations. It varies by state and by type of lawsuit. Don’t delay in filing your lawsuit. 


    Between $2,500 and $25,000. Learn more about the small claims limit in each state. 

    Would you like to explore state-by-state? Learn more in our 50-State Guide to Small Claims Court. 

    Common Types of Small Claims Cases

    Money Owed (personal loans, contracts, unpaid invoices)

    Property Damage

    Return of Security Deposit

    Disputes with Airlines

    Disputes with Mechanics over Poor Workmanship

    Landlord/Tenant Disputes

    Contracts (written and oral)

    Disputes with Home Warranty Companies

    Minor Car Accidents (Property Damage, No Injury)

    Disputes with Contractors over Remodeling or Home Repairs

    Unpaid Invoices & Unjust Chargebacks

    Disputes with Car Dealerships and Private Car Sellers 

    Disputes with Insurance Companies

    HOA Disputes 

    Disputes with Moving Companies

    Disputes with Towing Companies

    Disputes with Telemarketers and Robocallers

    What Do I Hope to Get Out of the Case? 

    There are many reasons someone files a lawsuit in small claims court. 

    • Financial Recovery: to recover money for financial losses someone has caused you. For example, a landlord won’t return your $1,500 security deposit.  

    • Justice: people choose to go to court to prevent an individual or business from causing damages to others as they did to you. For example, a gas station sold you bad gas which led to your car breaking down, you don’t want this to happen to anyone else as the gas station is a bad actor. 

    How Much Will It Cost? 

    Each state charges a different amount for small claims cases. On average it costs between $10-$150 to sue someone in small claims court.  Some common fees include:

    • Filing: Filing fees range from state to state and sometimes even court by court but tend to be between $0-$150. In most courts, you can also request your court fees to be waived if you are low-income. 

    • Service: Once your lawsuit is filed, the next step is to notify the other party that they have been sued. This is called “serving.” Serving fees and rules also vary from state to state. Generally, you can expect to pay $0-$125 to serve your lawsuit. 

    • Legal Assistance: Although small claims court is designed for individuals to represent themselves, if you choose to hire an attorney, you can expect to pay around $250 per hour. 

    How Much Time Am I Willing to Put In?

    Small claims court is known as the People’s Court. Most states have set up small claims courts to be easy to navigate, but nevertheless, you will need to spend time taking someone to small claims courts. 

    Here are the steps you can expect to take when taking someone to small claims: 

    1. File your lawsuit. Each state has a different way to file your lawsuit. For example, some states require you to file your lawsuit by going to the courthouse, others have electronic filing, filing by fax, or filing by mail. 

    2. Serve the person you sued. This means notifying the person you sued about the lawsuit. Remember, the rules about this vary from state to state. For example, in some states, the court will serve the lawsuit by mail for you and in other states, you will need to hire someone to serve the lawsuit for you. Generally, you cannot be the one to serve your own lawsuit. 

    3. Prepare for the hearing. You will need to prepare your evidence for the hearing. Afterall, evidence is what helps you win. For example, if you are suing your landlord over your security deposit, you will likely have pictures of the rental when you moved out and emails/texts with your landlord over the return of the deposit.  

    Filing your lawsuit, serving the other party, and preparing for the hearing can be time consuming. Did you know that People Clerk, can help you with filing, serving, and preparing your evidence for the hearing? Get Started.  

    Is My Evidence Substantial Enough?

    To win in small claims, you need to prove your case. To prove your case, you need evidence. For example, written evidence, video evidence, witnesses, and what you say at the hearing to the judge may count as evidence. 

    Evidence that is:

    1. trustworthy,

    2. relevant, 

    3. and clear

    helps the judge understand your case and persuade the judge in your favor. In cases where you don’t have enough evidence to prove your case, it may be difficult to win, resulting in an overall loss of time and money.

    Here are some examples: 

    • Security Deposit. If your landlord has not returned your security deposit, it would be good to show the judge pictures of the unit when you moved out and any emails you have between you and your landlord that relate to the return of your security deposit. In some states, the responsibility falls on your landlord to have pictures of the unit once you moved out so if you forgot to take the pictures, it wouldn’t be your responsibility to prove what the apartment looked like at the time you moved out. 

    • Car Accident. If someone hit your car, you will likely need to prove that they are at fault for causing the damage to your car, that you are the owner of the car, and how much it costs to fix your case. You can make a drawing of how the accident happened, provide your car registration, and estimates or receipts from a mechanic. 

    If you don’t think you can win with the evidence you have, you may want to reconsider suing in small claims court or consult with an attorney to see what they think about your case. 

    Will I Be Able to Collect? 

    Your ability to collect after winning a small claims case should be a top consideration. Consider this, if someone owes you $1,000, and you know they don’t have money, is it worth going to small claims court? Probably not if the reason you are suing them is to get your money back.  

    You may also want to think again about suing someone who is a scammer, as they will be hard to find. 

    Nevertheless, many states allow you to: 

    • Garnish someone’s wages if they have a job. This means each time the person receives their salary, a percentage of that salary will be sent to you to pay off the judgment. This option is not always available, as there are certain exceptions to when you can use wage garnishments, like if the person is low-income.  

    • Placing a levy on someone’s property. This means you will be paid through the sale of the person’s personal property, which can include real estate, furniture, vehicles, etc. 

    What are My Other Options?

    If you aren’t sure you want to go to small claims court, there are other options to consider filing in small claims. 

    • Filing a Complaint With Your Attorney General: Each state has an attorney general which is the chief attorney of that state. Their responsibility is to protect consumers in their state from individuals and companies. Filing a complaint with the Attorney General can lead to justice, as they are the main enforcers of consumer protection laws in their states. Keep in mind that many times the attorney general’s office won’t take action against an individual or company until several people have complained. Learn more in our 50- State Guide to State Attorney General Complaints. 

    • Demand Letters: Demand letters are used as a tool to settle disputes before filing  a lawsuit. It is a great way to save time and money before suing someone in court.  Ultimately, even if you decide that small claims is not worth it for you, you should consider sending a demand letter as a way to try to resolve your dispute. People Clerk has a free tool to help you create a demand letter.

    • Mediation: Mediation is another way to resolve a legal problem. Mediation is a meeting between you and the person who you intend to sue with a neutral 3rd party called a mediator.  A mediator will try and find a mutual agreement that satisfies both parties in order to avoid having a judge decide your case. 

    Did you know that People Clerk, can help you with filing, serving, and preparing your evidence for the small claims hearing?

    We also have a free tool to help you write a demand letter.

    Get Started.  


    Camila Lopez

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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