||Ask Dr. Don
Should I go to small claims
Dear Dr. Don,
Several years ago I gave a personal loan ($6,000)
to a friend to start her small business. Nothing was put in writing,
but the loan was mentioned in a letter that I received from her. I
have the canceled check along with copies of most of her payment checks.
The problem now is that it has been almost a year since I received
any payments from her and she still owes me $1,000. Can I take her
to small claims court and recoup the remaining monies owed to me?
You've got enough documentation to take her to small claims court,
but have you tried talking to her first? The judge is going to want
to know what steps you took prior to taking this to court to settle
this claim. Negotiation and mediation are both alternatives to filing
a claim in small claims court.
The Web site of the Clerk of Courts for Palm Beach
County, Fla., provides the following suggestions:
When considering whether you should file a
lawsuit, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Have I tried all possible and/or reasonable means
to reach a settlement?
- Do I have, or am I able to obtain, the necessary
evidence to prove my claim?
- Do I know the correct legal name and address of
can help you find the small claims court that will hear your case
while the U.S. General Services Administration provides this
overview to filing a small claims case.
Depending on where you live, the statute
of limitations on an oral agreement may have run out. In some
states, it's as short as two years while in others it runs for 10
years. Talk to her first and try to arrange a schedule for her to
pay this remaining debt.
-- Posted: Nov. 17, 2003