How can you sue someone that owes you more than $10,000?

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How can you sue someone that owes you more than $10,000?

I heard small claims court only takes cases up to $10,000. What do you do if someone owes you $18,000?

Asked on February 6, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Texas

Answers:

Frank Avellone / Law Office of Frank G. Avellone

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Each state sets the maximum amount for "small claims court."  In Illinois, the amount is currently $10,000. If the amount in controversy is above $10K AND you choose to sue in "small claims," then you are waiving or forfeiting the right to recover amounts above $10K.  The better approach is to sue in the regular division of the court.

If you are a "natural person" (not a corporation or partnership), then you have the right to represent yourself ("pro se"), regardless of which division of the court you file in.  The question is not whether you can represent yourself (you can), but whether it is wise to do so.  Whether it is wise depends upon the type and nature of the case, your ability to learn and implement the basics of court procedure and evidence, and whether the other side will hire a lawyer and fight.

Some judges, outside of small claims court, will be lenient with "pro se" litigants and cut them some slack----- other judges will treat you the same as an attorney and expect you to know what to do and how to do it.  Remember, if you begin by representing yourself, you can always seek the services of an attorney if and when you are no longer able to manage the case on your own.  But beware that some lawyers are reluctant to step in "at the eleventh hour" to clean up a mess. 


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