What Happens if I Received a Statement of Claim?

A Statement of Claim is a form that is used when someone believes you owe them money.  This is the form that begins a case in Small Claims court.  It is a simple form that is filled out by the Plaintiff, and then given to the clerk who will issue a Summons. This is then given to the defendant, usually by a process-server.  Of course there are a lot of specific rules that must be followed and violating anyone of them can lead to a dismissal of the entire case.

Small claims cases are cases that are cases for less than $5,000 exclusive of interest, costs, and attorneys’ fees.  Most commonly a statement of claim is used by a debt collection attorney.  The reason this is because small claims rules are very lenient and collection attorneys think they won’t have to prove their case.  however, a competent defense attorney will invoke the rules of procedure and force the Plaintiffs to prove every step of their case.

Once a Defendant is given the lawsuit by the process-server the Summons will give you a date, time and place that you are to appear for a pretrial conference.  Often at the pretrial conference is just a mediation and you enter indicate if you are liable or not.  This is the most dangerous part of a case for a Defendant who does not understand the rules and defenses that are available to him.  I strongly suggest you retain a competent debt defense attorney before attending this hearing.   Every time I attend this hearing almost all the Defendants without an attorney end up entering into a payment plan if the plaintiff is a debt collector, regardless of the proof they have.  The reason this happens is because they assume that if they borrowed the money they will have to pay it back.  However, this may not be the case.  Many defenses are available such as statute of limitations, bankruptcy, or if the plaintiff just can’t prove their case.

Never ignore a statement of claim and immediately contact an attorney who can advise you of the strengths and weaknesses of your case and how to best proceed.  If you have received a Statement of Claim and need would like a free consultation, you can contact my office at (786) 529-2176.

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