The Small Claims Court allows every citizen to bring a lawsuit in an informal manner and does not require that a party hire an attorney. You may hire an attorney if you want; however, in most instances you will not be able to get the other party to pay your legal fees even if you win unless there is some written agreement making the other party liable for your attorney's fees.
The Small Claims Courts were created so that you would have a speedy, reasonably inexpensive, uncomplicated means of determination of your claim. It is for your benefit. It is your right. Do not be afraid to use it. The court's staff and the clerk's staff will assist you but they cannot give you legal advice.
The procedures are not complex. The Plaintiff fills out a simple form stating why the Defendant owes him or her money or that the Defendant has property which should be returned to the Plaintiff. Each party will explain his or her side of the story to the judge at trial. The judge may ask questions of each party to determine the complete facts of the case. The judge will make a decision based on the facts and evidence presented by the parties and on the law as it applies to the facts.
How to Use this Manual
This manual has been prepared to provide you with general knowledge of the operation of Small Claims Courts in County Courts, Superior Courts, and Circuit Courts. It does not address the specific jurisdiction or procedures of Marion County Small Claims Court. Marion County Small Claims Court is governed by Ind. Code § 33-34 et seq.
The manual does not cover all areas of the law or procedure, it does deal with many of the problem areas experienced in small claims court and, hopefully, will aid you in preparing your case. Keep in mind that the procedures outlined in this manual may be subject to change by local court rule, practice or custom. Please be sure to follow the current version of the Small Claims Rules as they may change after posting this publication. If you have a question about a particular procedure, practice, or court policy, check with the clerk. He or she may be able to assist you.
Please read the manual from cover to cover. Although the court staff and the Small Claims clerk cannot give you legal advice, they will try to answer any questions you might have after you have read the manual.