Lake County Small Claims Court Costs and Fees
The costs for filing a Small Claims case in Lake County include the filing fee, which is based on the amount of your claim, as well as a service fee for summoning each party to court. If a party obtains a judgment in its favor, these court costs can be added into the total amount of the judgment. You should contact the Lake County Clerk Court to inquire about the specific amount of the filing fee for your case.
Serving a Defendant in Lake County Small Claims Court Cases
Once a case is filed, the Plaintiff needs to take steps to serve all the Defendants which were named in the case. You need to knows the full name of the individual that you are suing. You also need an address of where that person can be served. In order to sue a business, you must determine whether the business is incorporated. If a corporation is being sued, you must have the full name of the corporation and the name and address of a corporate officer or registered agent for the business. This information can be obtained through the Florida Department of State, Division of Corporations at 850-245-6052 or online at http://www.sunbiz.org. The plaintiff also needs to research whether a business is utilizing a fictitious business name. The fictitious name information can be obtained through the Department of State, Division of Corporations as well.
Cases that Cannot Be Filed in Lake County Small Claims Court
Florida Small Claims Court cases cannot handle cases involving the following items:
- traffic fines
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Lake County
In Florida, small claims court actions can only be filed in the county where the Defendant lives, where the incident giving rise to the action occurred, or where the property involved is located. If none of these apply, then the Lake County Small Claims Court will not have proper jurisdiction to hear the case. If this occurs, you risk obtaining a judgment that can then be challenged and attacked by the defendant after the case when you begin to collect it (which would mean you would have to start all over in the proper county). Claims up to $5,000.00 (not including interest, attorney fees, or costs) can be filed in small claims court. This is authorized under Rule 7.010 of the Florida Rules of Court and Chapter 34 of the Florida Statutes.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Lake County Small Claims Court
The party filing the case needs to complete a Statement of Claim form (which can be obtained from the Lake Court Clerk’s Office). You should type or print your claim on the form using a pen to make sure it’s legible to the defendant as well as the court.
How to Prepare to File a Small Claims Court Case in Lake County
Before filing a case, it is important that you attempt to discuss your case with the opposing party about what the actual issue is. The best way to accomplish this is to write a short succint letter outling your position and deliver it to the other party. There is a chance your issue can be resolved prior to filing your claim. This will be the quickest and easiest way to resolve your dispute.
Who is Able to File a Case in Lake County Small Claims Court?
The following people can file a small claims court case:
- Someone 18 years of age and older
- You are the parent or guardian of a minor and are filing on their behalf
- A corporate officer on behalf of the corporation (requires written authorization)
Lake County Small Claims Court Pre-Trial Conference
The pre-trial conference is used for the court to attempt to see if your case can be resolved without a trial. This is usually done with an informal settlement conference or mediation. If the case cannot be settled, it will be set for trial on the judge’s trial docket. It is important for the plaintiff to ensure that the Defendant (and all of them) have been served prior to the pre-trial conference, or the court will cancel the pre-trial conference date. Pre-trial conference appearances are mandatory. Persons representing parties must have full settlement authority otherwise the court may impose court costs and attorney fees on the party failing to comply with this rule. A corporation can be represented by any officer of the corporation or an employee that is so designated by an officer of that corporation. Depending on how many defendants are involved in a case and when each defendant was served, the court may schedule different dates for pre-trial conferences on the same case. The plaintiff is still required to attend all of these pre-trial conferences.
Can I have a jury in my Lake County Small Claims Court Case?
Even though it is small claims court, a jury trial is available. A large majority of cases are handled and tried in front of a judge rather than a jury. The plaintiff or defendant can both make a request for a jury trial. Small Claims Court Rule 7.150 allows for a jury trial upon written demand of the plaintiff (when the suit is filed) or defendant within five days after being served with notice of the suit or at the pre-trial conference. If neither of these occur, the case will be tried to a judge.
Location for Small Claims Courthouse in Lake County
Small claims court cases can be filed at the Lake County Courthouse which is located at: 550 W. Main Street Tavares, FL 32778 The courthouse can be reached at: 352-742-4100.
Rules Governing Small Claims Court Cases in Lake County
The procedures governing all small claims court cases in Florida are found in the Florida Small Claims Rules.