Not everyone needs a lawyer to file a lawsuit, especially if the argument involves a few thousand dollars. This is where small claims court comes in.
It lives up to its name. In Kansas, small claims is for recovering amounts of $4,000 or less. This could be over a contract dispute — for example, you paid a repair bill but the broken thing still doesn’t work.
These cases, which don’t have lawyers, can be confusing for people unfamiliar with the court system. Here’s some instructions to help you navigate small claims court.
Check out this instruction packet (in a .pdf file) from the Sedgwick County Courthouse. Read the instructions closely. There’s a sample of how to fill out the paperwork, and at the end the actual forms you’ll need to complete to file your case.
Where to go
The small claims office is on the third floor of the Historic Sedgwick County Courthouse, 510 N. Main.
How much it will cost
When you file your case you will pay non-refundable filing fees:
- $51 if your claim is worth $500 or less
- $71 if your claim is worth $500.01 to $4,000
The mistakes court officials say they see most often:
Filing a lawsuit too late: There is a deadline for filing any claim, called a statute of limitations. If you wait too long, your case could be dismissed just because you filed it too late. In Kansas, statutes of limitations vary:
- Written contract: 5 years
- Oral contract: 3 years
- Personal injury and property damage: 2 years
Filing in the wrong court: If the person or business you’re suing is in Butler County or anywhere besides Sedgwick County, you’re in the wrong place. Your case will likely be dismissed and the fee is non-refundable.
You’re in the right place if:
- The defendant lives in Sedgwick County, can be served with a summons here or lived here at the time of the incident leading to your claim.
- You are filing against a company that does business in Sedgwick County.
- The property you’re seeking to recover is in Sedgwick County.
The form you fill out says:
“You must sue the proper party and serve your claim upon the proper person. You should name as a defendant the person or business that you feel is responsible for payment of your claim. If you are suing an insurance company, you can only sue your own. Otherwise, you will sue the individual. Make sure you have the correct name and address of the person(s) or business you wish to sue.”