Law Office Of Paul DePetris
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How To File A New Jersey Small Claims Complaint FAQS

INTRODUCTION
Read below to learn more about this topic.  Or, to receive a no cost phone consultation, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send him an email.  Warning – this article does not necessarily include every New Jersey court rule, code or law that may apply to your New Jersey case!  The Law Office of Paul DePetris does not guarantee that the statutes, rules, codes, files or forms on this website are the latest versions, that they lack typographical errors or that they have not changed, repealed or superseded by other laws.  Before taking any action, read all applicable federal and state source law and case law and consult with an experienced New Jersey Law Division lawyer.  Court addresses, hours of operation and directions may change so check with the court in advance of mailing documents to court or going there!  Some of the webpages on this site don’t apply to all types of New Jersey cases, since there are different rules for different case types!


HOW TO FILE A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COMPLAINT FAQS


WHAT IS THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SECTION, SPECIAL CIVIL PART COURT?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims complaint, you must understand what the small claims section is.  New Jersey Small Claims lawsuits are handled by the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Small Claims Section.   A New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit is a New Jersey civil court lawsuit in which the money sought to be recovered does not exceed $3,000 (or $5,000 if the New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit involves the return of a rental security deposit).   Lawsuits for higher amounts of money must be filed with other New Jersey Courts.   In New Jersey Small Claims lawsuits for damages up to $15,000, the Plaintiff should file in the regular Special Civil Part and in New Jersey Small Claims lawsuits involving damages greater than $15,000, the Plaintiff should file in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Civil Part.  There are also exceptions to these rules – not all types of New Jersey Small Claims lawsuits are able to be filed in the New Jersey Small Claims Court.   For example, if you have a claim involving a family law situation, you may have to file in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Family Part.  Also, if you are a New Jersey landlord who seeks to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent, you may have to file your New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Landlord Tenant Section.    If you file your New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit in the New Jersey Small Claims Court, you shall very likely be prevented from recovering more money than $3,000 (or $5,000 if the New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit involves the return of a rental security deposit).    Because the procedures for handling New Jersey New Jersey Small Claims lawsuits in the New Jersey Small Claims Court are relatively easier than in New Jersey Courts deciding New Jersey Small Claims lawsuits involving larger sums of money, most the New Jersey Small Claims lawsuits filed in the New Jersey Small Claims Court move more rapidly through the New Jersey court system than New Jersey lawsuits filed for larger sums of money.


WHAT ARE THE HOURS OF THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you need to know the court’s hours.  The court is normally open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


WHAT IS THE ADDRESS FOR FILING COMPLAINTS?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims complaint, it is first necessary to understand where to file the lawsuit.   New Jersey small claims court lawsuits are filed with the Special Civil Part, small claims section.  Normally, if a defendant is a New Jersey resident or New Jersey business, complaints are filed in the New Jersey county where 1 of the defendants has their address.  If the defendant resides or does business from an office located outside New Jersey, file the lawsuit in the New Jersey county in which the lawsuit arose – that is, where the legal dispute started.  Here are the addresses of the Superior Court Special Civil Part Clerk’s Offices at which to file a small claims lawsuit: 


Atlantic County Special Civil Part 
Atlantic County Civil Courthouse 
1201 Bacharach Blvd. 
Atlantic City, NJ 08401 
(609)-594-3370 


Bergen County 
Special Civil Part 
Bergen County Justice Center 
Room 427, 10 Main Street Hackensack, NJ 07601 
(201 )-527-2730 


Burlington County 
Special Civil Part 
49 Rancocas Rd. 
Mount Holly, NJ 08060 
(609)-518-2865 


Camden County 
Hall of Justice 
101 S. 5th Street, Suite 150 Camden, NJ 08 103-4001 
(856)-379-2202 


Cape May County 
Special Civil Part 
9 N. Main Street 
Cape May Courthouse, NJ 08210 (609)-463-6502 


Cumberland County Special Civil Part 
60 West Broad Street Bridgeton, NJ 08302 (856)-453-4350 


Essex County 
Civil Customer Service 
Hall of Records 
Room 201 
465 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. 
Newark, NJ 07102 
(973)-693-5529 


Gloucester County 
Gloucester County Courthouse Attn: Civil Case Management Office 
1 N. Broad St. 
Woodbury NJ 08096 
(856)-853-3392 


Hudson County 
Special Civil Case Management Office 
711 Administration Bldg. 
595 Newark Avenue 
Jersey City, NJ 07306 
(201 )-795-6680 


Hunterdon County 
Hunterdon County Justice Center 65 Park Avenue 
P.O. Box 1069 Flemington, NJ 08822 
(908)-237-5820 


Mercer County 
Mercer County Central Finance Office 
175 S. Broad St. 1st Floor 
P.O. Box 8068 
Trenton, NJ 08650 
(609)-5 71-4490 


Middlesex County 
Middlesex Vicinage 
Special Civil Part 
3rd Floor - Tower 
P.O. Box 1146 
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-1146 (732)-5 19-3679 
Monmouth County 
Central Fee Office 
P.O. Box 1260 
Freehold, NJ 07728-1260 
(732)-677-4223 


Morris County 
Morris County Courthouse Special Civil Part Washington and Court Sts. 
P.O. Box 910 
Morristown, NJ 07963-0910 
(973)-656-4 125 


Ocean County 
Ocean County Superior Court Civil Intake 
118 Washington St., Room 121 P.O.Box 2191 
Toms River NJ 08754-2191 
(732)-929-2016 


Passaic County New Courthouse 
77 Hamilton Street, First Floor Paterson, NJ 07505 
(973)-247-8239 


Salem County 
Salem County Courthouse Attn: Civil Case Management Office 
92 Market St. 
Salem, NJ 08079 
(856)-935-7510 x8214 
Somerset County 
Somerset County Civil Division 40 North Bridge Street, 1st. Fl. P.O. Box 3000 
Somerville, NJ 08876 
(908)-23 1-7054 


Sussex County Special Civil Part 
Sussex County Judicial Center 43-47 High St. 
Newton, NJ 07860 
(973)-5 79-0918 
Union County 
Special Civil Part 
Old Annex, 3rd Floor 2 Broad Street 
Elizabeth, NJ 07207 
(908)-659-4900 


Warren County 
Warren County Civil Division Courthouse 
413 Second St. 
P.O. Box 900 
Belvidere, NJ 07823-1500 
(908)-475-6144


HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO FILE A NEW JERSEY SPECIAL CIVIL PART COMPLAINT?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you must understand the court’s filing fees.  The following is a list of the filing fees for small claims and other types of matters filed in Special Civil Part:


Small Claims:
One defendant...................................................................................................$15.00
Each additional defendant...................................................................................$2.00
Tenancy:
One defendant...................................................................................................$25.00
Each additional defendant...................................................................................$2.00
Other Special Civil Part Cases:
Complaint or other initial pleading containing a counterclaim,
cross-claim or third-party complaint in all other civil actions
where the amount exceeds the small claims monetary limit..............................$50.00
Each additional defendant...................................................................................$2.00
Complaint or other initial pleading containing a counterclaim,
cross-claim or third-party complaint in all other civil actions
where the amount does not exceed the small claims monetary limit.................$32.00
Each additional defendant...................................................................................$2.00
Filing of appearance or answer to a complaint or a third party
complaint in all matters except tenancy and small claims.................................$15.00
Service of process:
Summons by mail, each defendant.....................................................................$7.00
Summons by mail, each defendant at place of business or
employment with postal instructions to deliver to addressee only,
additional fee.......................................................................................................$7.00
Reservice of summons by mail, each defendant.................................................$7.00
Reservice of summons or other original process by court officers:
One defendant............................................................................$3.00 plus mileage
Each additional defendant...........................................................$2.00 plus mileage
Substituted service of process by the clerk upon the
Director of the Motor Vehicle Commission........................................................$10.00
Plus Postage........................................................................................................$7.00
Mileage of court officer in serving or executing any process, writ, order, execution, notice, or warrant, the distance to be computed by counting the number of miles in and out, by the most direct route from the place where process is issued, at the same rate per mile set by the state for other state employees and the total mileage fee rounded upward to the nearest dollar.
Jury of six persons...............................................................................................$50.00
Warrant for possession in tenancy.......................................................................$15.00
Warrant to arrest, commitment or writ of capias ad respondendum,
each defendant..................................................................................................$15.00
Writ of execution or an order in the nature of execution,
writs of replevin and attachment issued subsequent to summons......................$5.00
Wage execution by mail to a federal agency, additional fee..................................$7.00
For advertising property under execution or any order........................................$10.00
For selling property under execution or any order................................................$10.00


WHAT TYPES OF NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS LAWSUITS ARE USUALLY FILED IN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims complaint, you should understand the types of lawsuits filed in small claims court.  The following are examples of some types of lawsuits filed in small claims court:
Contract disputes
Property damage disputes, such as car accidents where only property is damaged (and persons do not sustain serious personal injuries)
Bill collection disputes
Security deposit disputes
Disputes between consumers and merchants involving unsatisfactory goods or services, such as home repair disputes or automotive repair disputes


WHAT TYPES OF NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS LAWSUITS CANNOT BE FILED IN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims complaint, you must understand the types of lawsuits cannot be filed in small claims court.  The following are examples of some types of lawsuits that cannot be filed in small claims court:
lawsuits where the Plaintiff seeks to recover sums that exceed the damages recoverable in the New Jersey Small Claims Court – $3,000 (or $5,000 if the lawsuit involves the return of a rental security deposit).   
lawsuits involving a family law situation, such as those involving divorce, child support, spousal support or promises between boyfriends and girlfriends or fiancées for the payment of sums of money associated with their relationships.
Professional Liability/Malpractice New Jersey Small Claims lawsuits – claims brought against doctors, lawyers, architects, engineers and similar licensed professionals for conduct involving violations of their professional responsibilities/duties
New Jersey Small Claims lawsuits involving the probate of a will or other certain issues involving the administration of an estate or certain claims brought against it.
New Jersey Small Claims lawsuits where a New Jersey landlord who seeks to evict a tenant for nonpayment of rent (there is a Court called the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Special Civil Part, Landlord Tenant Section that handles most such disputes).  


WHAT IF MY DAMAGES ARE HIGHER THAN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS LIMIT BUT I AM WILLING TO GIVE UP THE CHANCE TO RECOVER MORE THAN THE MAXIMUM AMOUNTS RECOVERABLE IN NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT?    
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you need to understand about waiving higher damages to which you may be entitled.  It is not unusual Plaintiffs or Defendants with damage claims higher than the New Jersey Small Claims Court limit to file their lawsuit in the New Jersey Small Claims Court.  If you are willing to forever give up your right to recover money damages higher than the limits of the New Jersey Small Claims Court, you are able to file your New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit in Court.  Many people file a case in small claims and later regret it when they see that their opponent is making a case more difficult then they thought it was – at which point the filing party realizes they should have sued for as much money as possible by filing in a higher dollar limit court such as Special Civil Part.


WHEN DO I FILE A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS LAWSUIT?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims complaint, you must understand the deadlines for filing lawsuits in small claims court.  There are specific deadlines for all types of lawsuits, called statutes of limitation or statutes of repose.  For example, some contract disputes must be filed within 4 years that the dispute first arose or from the date the contract was signed, while other contract disputes must be filed within 6 years of one of those two events.  To determine which deadlines apply to your New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, consult an experienced New Jersey Small Claims lawyer.  Failure to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit within the specific deadline may result in your forever giving up all rights to file a lawsuit against the people or businesses who you believe caused you to suffer damages.  If your Lawsuit involves a government branch or government employee, consult with an experienced New Jersey Small Claims Court attorney, since you may have 90 days or less to file a claim notice in writing before you are even able to file a Lawsuit.  


WHAT IS A CASE DOCKET NUMBER?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims complaint, you must understand what a docket number is.   Each case is assigned an identification number when the complaint is filed with the court.   The Special Civil Part hears both Small Claims complaints and “regular” Special Civil cases.   New Jersey Small Claims complaints are identified by the number that the New Jersey Small Claims Court assigns to the complaint – a number beginning in “SC”.  “SC” stands for New Jersey Small Claims Court.  Special Civil complaints are identified by the number that the court assigns to the complaint – a number beginning in “DC”.   “DC” stands for “New Jersey District Court” – the old name for Special Civil Part Court.  


WHAT IS THE “REGULAR” SPECIAL CIVIL COURT?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you need to understand about regular Special Civil Part cases.  Special Civil Part cases that are not landlord tenant or Small Claims cases are typically Special Civil cases that are assigned a “DC” case docket number.  You can file your case as your case that is assigned a “DC” docket and not your Small Claims case that is assigned an “SC” docket even if you are asking for an amount of money less than $3,000.00 – the limit for most Small Claims cases (or $5,000 if the case involves the return of a rental security deposit).   The regular Special Civil court has some different procedures and forms from Small Claims Court and higher filing fees.


HOW DO I KNOW IF MY SPECIAL CIVIL CASE IS A SMALL CLAIMS CASE OR A REGULAR SPECIAL CIVIL CASE?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you need to understand how to distinguish between small claims and regular Special Civil Part.  The Special Civil Part hears both Small Claims cases and “regular” Special Civil cases.   Small Claims cases are identified by the number that the Small Claims Court assigns to the Small Claims case – a number beginning in “SC”.  “SC” stands for Small Claims Court.  Special Civil cases are identified by the number that the Special Civil Court assigns to the Special Civil case – a number beginning in “DC”.   “DC” stands for “District Court” – the old name for Special Civil Court.


ARE THERE ADVANTAGES TO FILING YOUR CASE IN THE REGULAR SPECIAL CIVIL COURT INSTEAD OF THE SMALL CLAIMS SECTION?
Most experienced New Jersey Small Claims Court attorneys do not file lawsuits in small claims because they understand the advantages of filing instead in regular Special Civil Part.   To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims complaint, you must understand the advantages to filing in regular Special Civil Part instead of the small claims section.   There are many advantages to filing in regular Special Civil Part, such as the following:
If you sue in Special Civil Part, you can ask to win more money than if you sue in small claims.   Many people file a case in small claims and later regret it when they see that their opponent is making a case more difficult then they thought it was – at which point the filing party realizes they should have sued for as much money as possible by filing in a higher dollar limit court such as Special Civil Part.
If you are suing a business in Special Civil Part that is a corporation or company, the corporation or company must hire an attorney to represent themselves – this is a great advantage since a corporation or company may not be willing to pay money to hire an attorney or even be able to get an attorney to represent them.
If you sue in Special Civil Part, the defendant can’t just show up in court without doing anything else – they must first prepare and file the proper paperwork and pay the necessary fee – something many defendants never due, which means they expose themselves to having a money judgment entered against themselves. 
If you sue in Special Civil Part, you may serve written requests for information on your opponent and if they fail to answer, they expose themselves to having a money judgment entered against themselves.  On the other hand, if they do answer, they may admit allegations you make about their misconduct toward you – information you may be able to use against them at trial to prove your case.
If you sue in Special Civil Part, the defendant may take the lawsuit more seriously than if you file in small claims.


WHAT IS A CAPTION?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you must understand how to read court documents.   Most documents filed with the court or served on another party (other than letters) have a caption located at the very top of the document.  Think of the caption as a box of information located at the top of each document being filed with a court.  The caption allows people who understand captions to quickly figure out at a glance what type of document they are looking at.  The caption states information like the following: names of the plaintiffs, names of the defendants, county and part of court where the case is being heard, whether the party preparing the document and whether they are represented by an attorney, the case docket number and the type of document at which you are looking (such as complaint, counterclaim, notice of motion, proof of service, order, etc.).  


WHAT RULES APPLY TO THE SMALL CLAIMS COURT?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you must understand what rules apply to the court.  The general rules of practice and procedure in the Special Civil Part, including the provisions of R. 1:40-6, shall apply to the Small Claims Section except that any authorized officer or employee may prosecute and defend on behalf of a party which is a business entity, whether formally incorporated or not, claims originating with and not held by transfer or assignment to that business entity, provided that such officer or employee is neither a suspended or disbarred attorney nor one who has resigned. This exception shall apply to every action cognizable in the Small Claims Section whether or not the complaint has been filed in the Small Claims Court. Notice in the Small Claims Section shall be by summons as provided by R. 6:2-1, and actions in Small Claims Court shall be disposed of on the return day unless adjourned by the Small Claims Court. Upon the filing of your Small Claims counterclaim for a sum in excess of the monetary limit of the Small Claims Section, the action shall be transferred to the Special Civil Part proper upon payment by the Small Claims defendant of the required fees.


HOW AND WHERE DO I FILE A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT LAWSUIT? 
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims complaint, you must understand where to file the lawsuit.  You may file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit – called a “complaint” – in the New Jersey Small Claims Court by preparing a written complaint and filing it by either visiting the New Jersey Superior Courthouse or appropriate Court Finance Office in the county where you intend to file the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint – all of which are located in the county seat of the appropriate county -- or by sending the necessary paperwork to the appropriate county office of the Superior Court of New Jersey.  Unless you qualify for indigent status (provided to people with limited income), you must pay New Jersey Small Claims filing and service fees to file your New Jersey Small Claims complaint and to have it served on the Defendants named to the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint.  The fee is determined based on the number of parties you are suing, the dollar amount of the dispute and the type of trial you want.  Court fees often change, so it is important that you check with the New Jersey Small Claims Court as to the appropriate fee when you are actually ready to file your papers.  If you are poor, you may ask the New Jersey Small Claims Court for an application for indigent status, which, if granted, shall result in your filing fees being waived by the court.  Only persons age 18 or older are able to file a New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint for themselves (minors must file a lawsuit through their parent or guardian).  There are specific rules about where to file Small Claims Court complaints in the New Jersey Special Civil Part, which depend on various considerations.  For example, if the person you are suing lives in New Jersey or if you are suing a company with an office in New Jersey or with a registered agent in New Jersey, you usually must sue in the county where the person resides or where the company’s office or registered agent is located.  If none of the individuals that you are suing lives or (in the case of a business) has an office in New Jersey, you file the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint in the county where the events giving rise to the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint actually occurred.  New Jersey Small Claims forms are available at the appropriate office of the New Jersey Special Civil Part and via the worldwide web.  However, neither New Jersey Small Claims forms, websites nor advice from New Jersey Small Claims Court personnel are good substitutes for an experienced New Jersey Small Claims lawyer’s legal services.  Each New Jersey Small Claims Court lawsuit has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges.  It is extremely important that you prepare your complaint very carefully and make sure that you include in the document a list of all factual and legal reasons why you may have a right to win your lawsuit, since failure to do so could cause you to lose your case.  It is very common Plaintiffs or Defendants to file inadequate or incorrect complaints that result in the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaints or answers to Small Claims Court complaints being rejected by the New Jersey Special Civil Part or being dismissed by the New Jersey Special Civil Part after filing and before or after a New Jersey Small Claims trial because of procedural deficiencies.   When filing a complaint in the New Jersey Small Claims Court, be sure to include the following information: 
your full name, address, and telephone number. 
the correct names and addresses of all people named as defendants in the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint. 
properly identify whether each defendant is an individual, a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. 
the amount of money for which you are suing. 
a list of factual reasons why you seek damages from each defendant
a list of all legal reasons why you may have a right to win your lawsuit. 
whether at the present time there is any other lawsuit involving both you and the other parties named to the lawsuit and, if so, the name of the New Jersey Small Claims Court in which any other such lawsuit is being heard. 
your signature on the complaint. 
If you are not represented by an attorney in a New Jersey Small Claims Court lawsuit, you are called a “pro se litigant”.  Most Small Claims Court complaints that go to trial are nonjury trials, meaning that only a Judge hears the lawsuit.  There may be certain exceptions and you should ask an experienced New Jersey Small Claims Court attorney to explain those exceptions to you.  For example, the court may, in its discretion, order a trial by jury at the Plaintiff's expense, to be added in the costs of the action notwithstanding the failure of all parties to have made a jury demand.   If you are a Plaintiff and want a jury to determine your New Jersey Small Claims court lawsuit rather than a Judge alone, be sure to file the appropriate paperwork and seriously consider first discussing the issue with an experienced New Jersey Small Claims Court attorney since jury trials are very difficult to handle!


WHAT IS A NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS SUMMONS?  
To know how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you must understand what a New Jersey Small Claims Summons is.  Many people mistakenly believe that a New Jersey Small Claims Summons is a lawsuit.   However, a New Jersey Small Claims Summons is not a lawsuit at all.  Instead, a New Jersey Small Claims Summons is a court document that “summons” you to appear in court for trial.   The plaintiff and the defendant must appear at the proper courthouse at the time and on the date stated on the New Jersey Small Claims summons, unless the court tells you something different. When you want to file a complaint in small claims, you must, in addition to preparing the complaint, prepare the New Jersey Small Claims Summons.


WHAT IF I AM SUED IN THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT BUT SOMEONE OWES ME MONEY BECAUSE OF THE SITUATION THAT IS THE SUBJECT OF THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT LAWSUIT FILED AGAINST ME?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you need to understand about New Jersey Small Claims counterclaims and New Jersey Small Claims third party complaints.   If you are the Defendant or Plaintiff or someone that isn’t named in the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint owes you money or property based on the same set of facts as those in dispute in the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint or facts related to the dispute, you may be able to file a the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint to recover the money or property (discussed below).  If there are valid facts and legal reasons to support it, the Defendant can file their own lawsuit against a plaintiff, called a “the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim If you are sued and someone who is not named in the lawsuit is partially or totally responsible for the Plaintiff’s damages or for damages you suffered and there are valid facts and legal reasons to support it, the Defendant can file their own New Jersey Small Claims complaint, called a “third party complaint”.  By doing so, the Defendant names Parties not originally named to the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint as additional Parties to the Case.  New Jersey Small Claims the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaims and New Jersey Small Claims third party complaints must be prepared in writing and filed with the appropriate court where the original New Jersey Small Claims complaint is being heard normally require extra fees above the cost of filing an answer to the original New Jersey Small Claims complaint.  In the Case of the New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint, once properly filed, the New Jersey Small Claims Court normally serves it on the Plaintiff.  New Jersey Small Claims forms may be available at the appropriate office of the New Jersey Small Claims Court and via the worldwide web.  However, neither New Jersey Small Claims forms, websites nor advice from New Jersey Small Claims Court personnel are good substitutes for a an experienced New Jersey Small Claims Court attorney’s legal services.  Each Case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges.  It is very common for people to file inadequate or incorrect Small Claims Court complaints or the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaims that result in the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaints or New Jersey Small Claims counterclaims being rejected by the New Jersey Small Claims Court or being dismissed by the New Jersey Small Claims Court after filing and before or after trial because of procedural deficiencies.  It is important to be truthful and not to make misstatements of facts when filing the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaims and third party complaints.   It is extremely important that you prepare your New Jersey Small Claims the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint carefully and make sure that you include in the documents a detailed list of all reasons why you may have a right to win your Case, since failure to do so could cause you to lose your Case.  Accordingly, when you are sued and when you want to file a the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint, you should seriously consider hiring the New Jersey Small Claims Court attorney to prepare your response to the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint or the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim, to prepare written requests for information to the Party that sued you (discussed further below) and if you can afford it, to have the New Jersey Small Claims Court attorney represent you in New Jersey Small Claims court.  After your New Jersey Small Claims the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint is prepared, you must file it by either visiting the New Jersey Superior Courthouse or appropriate Court Finance Office in the county where the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint was filed – all of which are located in the county seat of the appropriate county -- or by sending the necessary paperwork to the appropriate county office of the Superior Court of New Jersey.  When filing a the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint in the New Jersey Small Claims Court, be sure to include the following information: 
your full name, address, and telephone number. 
the correct names and addresses of all people named as defendants in the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint. 
properly identify whether each defendant is an individual, a sole proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation. 
the amount of money for which you are suing. 
a list of factual reasons why you seek damages from each plaintiff or Third party defendant
a list of all legal reasons why you may have a right to win your Case. 
whether at the present time there is any other case involving both you and the other parties named to the lawsuit and, if so, the name of the Court in which any other such case is being heard. 
your signature on the the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim or New Jersey Small Claims third party complaint. 
You must pay a fee to file the document.  If you are owed more than the limit for claims filed in the New Jersey Small Claims Court and you want to recover all the money you believe you are due, you shall have to get instructions on how to have the Case removed from that section to the regular New Jersey Special Civil Part (if the sum that you claim does not exceed $15,000) or the Law Division, Civil Part (if the sum you claim is greater than $15,000).


WHAT IF I FILED THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT LAWSUIT AND DEFENDANT FILED A THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COUNTERCLAIM AGAINST ME?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you must understand how to respond to a New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim.  If there are valid facts and legal reasons to support it, the Defendant can file their own lawsuit against a plaintiff, called a New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim.   If you are named to a the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim, you must be prepared to defend yourself in New Jersey Small Claims court by appearing when the New Jersey Small Claims trial is scheduled in your Case.  Failure to do so will normally result in your being defaulted and exposes you to the risk of having a money judgment entered against you and thereafter, possibly losing money or property.  It is possible for plaintiffs to win on their complaint only to lose on the Defendant’s the New Jersey Small Claims counterclaim.  If you are not represented by an attorney in the Case, you are called a “pro se litigant”.  Most cases filed New Jersey Small Claims Court that go to trials are nonjury trials, meaning that only a judge hears the Case.    If you are the Defendant in the Case, you could try to demand a jury trial by paying an additional filing fee and filing a written demand for a trial by jury with the court clerk at the principal location of the New Jersey Small Claims Court.  However, the demand must be filed with the court clerk served upon opposing parties at least five days before the return day stated on the New Jersey Small Claims summons, whereupon the Court Clerk shall transfer the action from the New Jersey Small Claims Court to the regular New Jersey Special Civil Part. Jury trials are much more complex than nonjury trials and usually require much more preparation, including extensive paperwork.  However, a jury trial demand may result in the facts of your Case being decided by the New Jersey Small Claims jury of ordinary people rather than by a single judge.  Even where the Plaintiff or Defendant requests a jury trial, the legal issues in the New Jersey Small Claims trials are normally decided by the Judge hearing the Case.


WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I FILE A SMALL CLAIMS LAWSUIT?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims complaint, you must understand what happens after you file it.  After the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint is filed, court staff shall serve lawsuit on the Defendants, usually by mailing the complaint and summons by certified and regular mail.  The summons actually summons the defendant to come to court.   


WHAT HAPPENS AT THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT TRIAL IN THE CASE?
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you must understand what happens at the small claims trial.  On the day that your Case goes to trial you must appear at court.  Usually, many cases are heard on the day that your Case is called for trial and it is not uncommon for many people to wait in a single courtroom for their case to be called.  You must be on time to avoid losing your Case!  If a plaintiff fails to appear when their case is called, the Court is likely to dismiss the New Jersey Small Claims Court complaint.  If the Defendant fails to appear when the Case is called, the New Jersey Small Claims Court shall likely enter a default.  If the New Jersey Small Claims Court default is entered, you shall have to prepare and file paperwork with the Court asking the New Jersey Small Claims Court to enter a default judgment in your favor.  If no default is entered, you must be prepared to present your Case or defense.  It is not uncommon for judges to get very frustrated by an unrepresented party’s lack of preparation or ignorance of the facts or law of the Case.  A court has the power to punish unprepared parties, such as by throwing their case out of court or limiting what they can present at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial.  You must bring all documents, photographs, videos and other items with you to the New Jersey Small Claims trial that are necessary to prove your Case (preferably originals).  Even if you bring such documents and items to court, the New Jersey Small Claims Court may refuse to allow you to use them at your trial.  New Jersey has published cases, laws, regulations, court rules and rules of evidence that are very tricky and that can be used to prevent you from doing much of what you want to do at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial.  Accordingly, before trial, you must consult all of these rules to determine how you intend to get your documents and items into evidence or how to properly use them at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial.  Hearsay rules of evidence are particularly troublesome and you should study them carefully before trial.  For example, it is very common for courts to refuse to allow the Plaintiff or Defendant to use or refer to documents or items that the person themselves never prepared.  Often parties stumble into Court with a video, photograph, bill or affidavit or other form of written statement, thinking they are going to use it as proof that they lost money or that they are not responsible for someone else’s damages, only to have a judge tell the parties that it is not going to even consider such items or documents.  Without the proper preparation, items and documents may never be considered by the New Jersey Small Claims Court.  Also, if there are any legal issues to be dealt with at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you must be prepared to argue them, which may require you to refer to court rules, evidence rules, laws, regulations or published cases.  If you have any witnesses that you need to testify for you at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, then in advance of the New Jersey Small Claims trial and as required by court rules, laws and published cases, you must prepare a written subpoena (or subpoenas if the Case is adjourned).   Such a subpoena must normally be personally served by a process server rather than by mail.  If you want to force one of the parties to the Case to testify as part of your Case, since they might not show up at the New Jersey Small Claims trial (it is possible that only their attorney will show up), you should serve them with a notice in lieu of subpoena.  If you think that you could have problems getting someone to show up to provide testimony at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial, you should have a process server serve them with a subpoena or  if they are the Plaintiff or Defendant to the dispute, a notice in lieu of subpoena.  Without witnesses to testify at the New Jersey Small Claims Court trial (especially experts, discussed above), you may lose your Case.  Trials can be very complex and time consuming – sometimes they take all day or more than one day to complete.  Also, it is very common for trials to get adjourned because someone is not ready to present their case for a valid reason (but you can never expect that you shall automatically get an adjournment and you must always be fully ready to try your Case on the date that the New Jersey Small Claims trial is scheduled since courts often refuse adjournment requests and dismiss cases if parties are not prepared to proceed with their case or defense on the New Jersey Small Claims trial date).  It is best to have your questions for any witnesses prepared in advance.  At the end of the New Jersey Small Claims trial, the New Jersey Small Claims Court normally enters the Judgment for or against you.  The New Jersey Small Claims Court may also withhold or “reserve” judgment for a later date, which normally results in the court taking time to write up its reasons for its decision and mailing it to the parties’ last known addresses (or to their New Jersey Small Claims lawyers, if they are represented).  


DON’T EXPECT THE NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT TO BE FAMILIAR WITH THE DETAILS OF YOUR CASE
To understand how to file a New Jersey Small Claims lawsuit, you must understand that court isn’t going to roll out the red carpet for you and your case.  That is, your case is usually simply one of many cases the court must deal with.  New Jersey Small Claims part is one of the busiest of all of the sections of the Superior Court of New Jersey.  Don’t ever expect New Jersey Small Claims court personnel to be familiar with the details of your Case.  Usually, most New Jersey Small Claims court personnel never read your complaints, answers and motions.   When dealing with New Jersey Small Claims court personnel, be prepared to explain those details of your Case that are necessary for them to understand your Case.


CAN I RELY ON NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT PERSONNEL FOR LEGAL ADVICE?
Court employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees.  Most court employees are not trained lawyers and therefore, they may not know what advice to give you.  Working at the court as a non-judge is not always the same as practicing law.  If you are serious about winning your case, consider getting New Jersey Small Claims Court help from an experienced New Jersey Small Claims Court attorney.


CAN I RELY ON NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS FORMS PROVIDED BY THE COURT?
The court usually provides certain types of New Jersey Small Claims forms to the public and those New Jersey Small Claims forms often very helpful.  However, beware relying on New Jersey Small Claims forms provided by the court – the New Jersey Small Claims forms are often deceptively simple, while Special Civil Part cases often are much more complex than they first appear to be.   There is simply no substitute for the services of an experienced New Jersey Small Claims lawyer.  New Jersey Small Claims forms don’t talk and New Jersey Small Claims forms and their directions rarely, if ever, cover every possible situation, set of facts or legal issue that may arise in a case.  Each case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges.   If you can afford an experienced New Jersey Small Claims Court attorney, it is best to have them give you New Jersey Small Claims Court help by preparing your paperwork and handling your trial.  


NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT HELP BY AN EXPERIENCED NEW JERSEY SMALL CLAIMS COURT ATTORNEY
Handling your case wrong from the beginning may only cost you more money and time in the end!!  Do it right the first time by seeking New Jersey Small Claims Court help from an experienced New Jersey Small Claims lawyer!  Handling your case wrong from the beginning may only cost you more money and time in the end!!   Do it right the first time by seeking New Jersey Small Claims Court help from an experienced New Jersey Small Claims lawyer!  Many pro se parties make the mistake of not consulting an experienced New Jersey Small Claims lawyer before filing papers only to later learn that the pro se parties made serious mistakes that could cause them to lose their case.  Recall that court employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees. Not all cases require you to pay expensive legal fees to get legal help.  Let the Law Office of Paul DePetris provide you with New Jersey Small Claims Court help.  Not all cases require you to pay expensive legal fees to get New Jersey Small Claims Court help.  Many people can and do successfully handle cases, from filing the first paperwork to the collection of a judgment.  However, many other people also make mistakes that lead to the dismissal of their cases or that result in the entry of a money judgment against them.  The following are reasons to consider New Jersey Small Claims Court help:
Appeals are very expensive and most are unsuccessful.
fees often change
rules often change
court employees cannot give you “free” legal advice and a Special Civil judge may refuse to let you claim that you were right in taking an action (or in deciding not to take action) because you relied on advice from such employees
New Jersey Small Claims forms available on websites may not cover every situation you may face in New Jersey Small Claims court
each  case has its own particular legal issues and therefore, its own challenges
it is very common for people to file inadequate or incorrect papers rejected by the court or dismissed at trail because of procedural deficiencies.   
it is not uncommon for judges to get very frustrated by an unrepresented party’s lack of preparation or ignorance of the facts or law of the case.  
a court has the power to punish unprepared parties, such as by throwing their case out of court or limiting what they can present at the trial.  
New Jersey has many published cases, laws, regulations, court rules and rules of evidence that can be very tricky to understand and that can be used to prevent you from doing much of what you want to do at the New Jersey Special Civil trial.  
it is very common for courts to refuse to allow the Plaintiff or Defendant to use or refer to documents or items at the New Jersey Special Civil trial that the person themselves never prepared.  Often parties stumble into New Jersey Special Civil with a video, photograph, bill or affidavit or other form of written statement, thinking they are going to use it as proof that they lost money or that they are not responsible for someone else’s damages, only to have a Special Civil judge tell the parties that it is not going to even consider such items or documents.  
without the proper preparation, items and documents may never be considered by the New Jersey Special Civil.  Also, if there are any legal issues to be dealt with at the New Jersey Special Civil trial, you must be prepared to argue them, which may require you to refer to court rules, evidence rules, laws, regulations or published cases.  
you cannot show up at the New Jersey Special Civil expecting the Judge Hearing your New Jersey Special Civil case to explain New Jersey Small Claims court rules, evidence rules, court procedure or the details of the law that applies to your New Jersey Special Civil case.  The Judge Hearing your New Jersey Special Civil case is not permitted to give you legal advice.


It is important to remember that even if you have an experienced New Jersey Small Claims Court attorney, you could lose your case.  Hiring an experienced New Jersey Small Claims lawyer to give you New Jersey Small Claims Court help can never guarantee your success.  However, it may provide what is needed to win your case or to avoid certain mistakes.  To receive a no cost phone consultation about New Jersey Small Claims Court help, call Mr. DePetris at 609-714-2020 or send an email to him.   


DOES THE LAW OFFICE OF PAUL DEPETRIS HAVE EXPERIENCE HANDLING NEW JERSEY CASES?
Let an experienced New Jersey Small Claims lawyer help you with your case.  Paul DePetris has performed the following tasks:
handled New Jersey cases for plaintiffs and defendants across New Jersey, from Bergen County New Jersey to Cumberland County New Jersey, including representations of individuals, small businesses and large corporations.
settled New Jersey cases for plaintiffs and defendants across New Jersey.
reviewed many New Jersey Court settlement agreements.
enforced many New Jersey Court settlement agreements.
provided New Jersey pro se plaintiffs and New Jersey pro se defendants with New Jersey Court legal advice and prepared New Jersey Court legal forms
prepared and filed many New Jersey Court complaints 
tried New Jersey Court jury trials
mediated many New Jersey cases
argued New Jersey Court motions
handled New Jersey Court proof hearings
handled New Jersey Court post judgment collection proceedings


Consider the services of an experienced New Jersey Small Claims Court attorney.   Mr. DePetris has appeared before the Superior Court of New Jersey in the following counties:
Atlantic County New Jersey Court 
Bergen County New Jersey Court
Burlington County New Jersey Court
Camden County New Jersey Court
Cape May County New Jersey Court
Cumberland County New Jersey Court
Essex County New Jersey Court
Gloucester County New Jersey Court
Hudson County New Jersey Court
Mercer County New Jersey Court
Middlesex County New Jersey Court
Monmouth County New Jersey Court
Morris County New Jersey Court
Ocean County New Jersey Court
Passaic County New Jersey Court
Salem County New Jersey Court
Somerset County New Jersey Court
Sussex County New Jersey Court
Union County New Jersey Court
Warren County New Jersey Court 


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