Requesting $10,000 or Less
- You can file a lawsuit in Small Claims Court if the amount of money you are suing for is $10,000 or less and you are only suing for money.
- Cases must be filed by submitting forms called 'Statement of Claim' and 'Information Sheet' in the Small Claims Clerk's Office. The Small Claims Clerk's Office is located in Court Building B, 510 4th Street, NW, Room 120. The party who files the case is called the plaintiff. The defendant is the person who is being sued. The statement of claim is a document that explains why the plaintiff believes the defendant owes the plaintiff money.
- The Small Claims Branch Courtroom is located in Court Building B, 510 4th Street, NW, Room 119.
- Please note that all filing fees must be paid by cash, certified check, credit card (America Express, Discover, Visa or MasterCard) or money order, made payable to: Clerk, DC Superior Court." (Only members of the DC Bar may pay filing fees by personal check. Bar members should include their bar number on the personal check).
This video explains what will happen on the first day of an in-person hearing in small claims court.
The original Statement of Claim must have the name(s) and address(es) of the plaintiff(s) and defendant(s).
One copy of the original Statement of Claim for each defendant is required when filing a case.
The statement of claim must have a simple but complete statement of why the plaintiff is suing the defendant and should give any dates and places that are important to the claim.
The plaintiff must also include a copy of any contract, promissory note, or other document that is important to the claim.
All plaintiffs must sign the statement of claim, including pro se plaintiffs, and give their address and telephone number (Signatures must be handwritten, a plaintiff cannot use a rubber stamp as a signature).
If the statement of claim is not notarized, you must bring picture identification to the Small Claims Clerk's Office to have the statement of claim verified by a clerk.
Any party can make a request to have their case heard by a jury. The request must be in writing and signed. The written request must be filed with the Small Claims Clerk’s Office before the first court date. The Court may extend the time to file the request for a jury demand upon request by the party. If the defendant wants to request a jury trial, a verified answer requesting the case to be heard by a jury must be filed on or before the first court date. A “verified answer” is an answer that the defendant has sworn to in front of a clerk or notary public. After a jury demand is made, the case will no longer be heard in the Small Claims Branch. The case will be assigned to an Associate Judge in the Civil Division of Superior Court. In jury demand cases, however, all documents must be filed with the Small Claims Clerk’s Office. The case type will change when a jury demand is filed. For example, case number 01 SC2 0003 will change to 01 SCJ 0003. There is a $75 fee for filing a jury demand, unless the fee is waived by the judge.
The Small Claims Branch is less formal than other branches of the Court. The procedures are simple and costs kept low so that most people do not need a lawyer to represent them in their small claims case. You must be 18 years old to file a case. Someone who is under the age of 18 or an incompetent person can only sue through a "representative or next of friend". An “incompetent person” is someone who a judge believes cannot make legal decisions for him or herself. A “representative or next of friend” is a person acting for the minor child or incompetent person. A business that files a claim in the Small Claims Branch must have a lawyer.
In most small claims cases, defendants are not required to file an answer, plea, or other defense(s) in writing. Instead, defendants can just tell the judge why they disagree that they owe some or all of the money the plaintiff is suing for when they are in court.
The clerks in the Small Claims Branch cannot give legal advice, but can assist you with procedural questions and case information.