A small claims case is a simplified type of court case in which
a person can attempt to recover money or personal property worth
$10,000 or less. If your claim is over $10,000, you can still use
small claims court, but you must give up the right to collect the
amount over $10,000. The $10,000 figure does not include interest
or court costs. You do not need a lawyer in a small claims case,
although you may have one if you wish. Small claims court may only
be used if all parties agree to this simplified procedure.
Small claims procedure may not be used for any of the following:
about title to real property
2) actions to recover possession of real
4) claims against the State of Alaska or
the United States government
5) injunctive relief (a court order requiring
a person to do or not to do a specified act)
6) actions to foreclose or enforce statutory,
common law or possessory liens
Before You File
You must always ask the defendant for what you want before you sue. It helps if your request is in writing. Your problem may be solved if the defendant decides to give you the money you are owed or return the personal property rather than face a lawsuit.
It is not expensive to file a small claims action. However, if you lose, you will lose your court costs, and you may also have to pay the defendant's court costs. Lawsuits should not be used merely to harass people. If you believe you have a good claim and can prove your case, you should file the suit. The question you should ask yourself is whether you can show the judge facts which will prove your case. The facts can come from your own testimony, the testimony of other people, documents, pictures, and even the testimony of the defendant, whom you can call as a witness and force to answer questions under oath.
An important thing to consider before you decide to sue someone to collect money is that the court will not actually give you your money if you win. All the court will give you is a Judgment stating that you are entitled to collect the money from the defendant. If the defendant does not pay voluntarily, you must use another court procedure called "execution procedure" to attempt to enforce the Judgment. This procedure will only be successful if the defendant has money or property which can be seized to pay the Judgment. For more information about execution procedure, see our Collections section.