Filing a Small Claims Lawsuit
in Miami Dade County

"Statement of Claim" form

"Notice to Appear" form - two versions Filing tips and instructions

For claims of $5,000 or less (not including court costs) there are simplified court rules that make it easier for people to file lawsuits without necessarily needing the help of a lawyer.

Small claims law suits can be filed with Clerk fo the Court's office. According to Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes. such lawsuits must be brought only in the county where the defendant resides, where the cause of action occurred or where the property involved is located. Landlord/Tenant disputes must be heard in the district where the property is located. The Clerk's Office can assist you in determining the correct district.

For additional help in learning how to file without a lawyer you can attend one of the Small Claims Clinics sponsored by Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc.  CLICK HERE for more information.

Prepare and File Two Forms
(download them using the links in the upper right of this page) Filing Your Claim at Clerk's Office:  Edit the downloaded forms.  When you are ready to file your case bring the completed forms to one of the filing location.  If the claim is based on a written document, a copy must be attached to your formal Statement of Claim.  At the filing location, a deputy clerk will assist you.  You will be required to fill out an information sheet with details of your claim.

"Service of Process" Pre-Trial Conference:  Once your suit has been processed a pre-trial date will be assigned and you will be notified of the date at that time or by mail.  Be sure to attend the conference; if you do not, the judge will dismiss your case. If the defendant does not appear for the hearing, a default judgment may be entered against the defendant.  The purpose of the conference is to determine whether or not your lawsuit should go to a full trial before a judge, or to see if it can be settled out of court.  The Judge will ask you if you want to try mediation.  This is a process where you and the other party sit down with a mediator and try to make a settlement of the case instead of having a trial. To anticipate the mediation you should bring any documents to assist you in proving your case but do not bring witnesses.&npsp; The advantage is reaching a settlement through mediation is that the case is over right away and don't have to take a chance with a trial. If no agreement is reached at the mediation you will be given a trial date.  It is your responsibility to subpoena any witnesses to help prove your case.  A deputy clerk at the filing location will assist you.

Witnesses Subpoenas:  As you prepare for the trial you may decide that you need witnesses to testify.  Some people may be willing attend the trial (like your sister, or friend) but need a document from the Court to be excused from work.  Others will not show up unless required (for example, a policeman).  In ether case you can verbally ask the Clerk's office to issue a "subpoena" for that witness.  A subpoena is an order from the Court requiring a witness to attend the trial.

What Will Happen at the Trial:  The trial is the final hearing in your case. At the trial all the witnesses testify and both sides present whatever documents or other evidence they have.  The trial may be held in the Courtroom or the Judge's Chambers.
Final Judgment:  If the judge makes a decision in your favor you will receive a Final Judgment by mail or be instructed to obtain a final judgment form to submit the judge for signature.
Collecting on a Judgment:  At any time during this process the defendant may pay you and settle the claim. However, obtaining a judgment against a party is NOT the same thing as collecting that judgment. Post-judgment legal procedures are often required prior to any collection. You may find it necessary to retain an attorney to assist you in post-judgment procedures.