How to Sue in Small Claims Court
Should You Check With A Lawyer?
If your attempts to settle the dispute are unsuccessful, you should determine whether your case is one which should be handled by an attorney, or whether you want to pursue the matter alone.
In some cases, you will be entitled by law to recover attorney's fees. In those cases, you may be able to get a lawyer to represent you and charge you a contingency fee; that is, charge you a fee only if you win. In such cases, this can open up other courts to you which you otherwise may not be able to use effectively without a lawyer representing you. Even in small claims court, a lawyer can often increase your chance of winning or advise you of opportunities to collect additional damages. For example, in certain consumer and landlord tenant disputes you can recover three times your damages. An attorney may be able to advise you about these laws, or refer you to other publications, such as the Texas Young Lawyers Association Landlord Tenant Booklet, that help you understand your rights. To find out more about available booklets call the Texas Young Lawyers Association at 1-800-204-2222.
To find an attorney to assist you, talk with relatives and friends to see who they recommend. You may want to contact local referral services, or call the Texas State Bar referral service at 1-800-252-9690. Low income individuals may also be eligible for free legal assistance from local legal service offices or law school clinic programs.
So, do you need an attorney? If the amount involved is significant, or if you are not comfortable representing yourself, the assistance of an attorney may be a good idea. In other cases, you should be able to competently represent yourself in small claims court. Remember, this really is a "People's Court."