When Should Small Claims Court Be Used?
In Maine, a person who is looking for the fastest way to get relief for a debt or contract valued at under $6,000 should consider filing a suit in small claims court. Anyone can file a suit as long as they are over 18 and the case does not involve real estate or a government entity.
How Difficult Is It To File A Small Claim In Maine?
Filing a claim is relatively easy. A Statement of Claim must be filed out and served to the other party. Then all paperwork and a $50 fee must be submitted to the court. An attorney can handle this entire process for you.
Do I Need An Attorney To File A Small Claim Complaint?
In Maine, a lawyer is not necessary in small claims court. However, hiring an attorney can be very beneficial. They will make sure that your best interests are being looked out for and take care of any technical aspects of the case such as subpoenaing witnesses and serving the other party. A small claims hearing is informal, but evidence and witnesses must still be presented. A lawyer will make sure that your argument is clear and your evidence is relevant.
Where Do I File A Small Claims Complaint?
A small claim can be filed in the local District Court of the area where the lawsuit arose or the city where the defendant lives or where their place of business is located. For a complete listing of District Courts in Maine, you can refer to the Maine Court website. If the case is filed in the wrong court, parties can always request to have the case transferred to the correct one. An attorney can help you decide which court to file your claim in.
Do Small Claims Cases Use Mediation?
In small claims cases the judge may require the parties to complete mediation before scheduling a hearing. The mediation process for a small claim works very similar to any other type of mediation. Both parties will meet with the mediator to discuss their issues and work to reach a compromise. Most resolutions made in mediation will be approved by the judge.
What Happens If One Party Fails To Appear For The Trial?
If one party does not appear for their small claims hearing, the judge can make a ruling on their own. If the plaintiff does not appear for the hearing, the judge will often dismiss the case. If the defendant fails to appear, the judge may make a summary judgment granting in favor of the plaintiff.
What If the Defendant Does Not Follow the Judge's Ruling?
If a judge rules after a hearing that the defendant must pay the plaintiff and they fail to do so after 30 days, the plaintiff has several options. The first is to collect the debt through a disclosure hearing. If this does not work, they may file a motion for contempt.