Ten Common Mistakes in Georgia Small Claims / Magistrate Court CasesOctober 30, 2009
In Georgia, almost any claim that seeks civil damages of $15,000.00 or less can be resolved in Magistrate Court. A trial in Magistrate Court consists of a judge (not a jury) listening to all sides during a hearing and then making a decision based upon the law and the evidence.
Unfortunately, many parties believe that they will go into a Georgia Magistrate court or Georgia Small Claims Court, tell the judge their side of the story and be awarded everything they want.
Below are Ten Common Mistakes people make in a Magistrate Court case:
1. Being late! Arrive early or run the risk of the Court ruling against you without a hearing.
2. Not having proper witnesses present to testify in support of estimates, reports, records, or other documents that they created. (Evidence of costs actually paid can usually be testified to by the party presenting the evidence.)
3. Not having witnesses present to testify about what they saw or heard.
4. Not having witnesses subpoenaed, especially third party witnesses and witnesses that are not family or friends.
5. Thinking that the judge will only believe your version of events and not consider the other side’s point of view.
6. Not being prepared to go to trial immediately, whether moments after your appear in court or after the mediation (if the Court requires Mediation-and many do).
7. Thinking you will have time to hire a lawyer if mediation does not work out.
8. Thinking the judge will automatically continue your case because you are not ready.
9. Forgetting that time is money and that a settlement without hanging out at the courthouse all day has its own value.
10. Forgetting that the Court’s ruling could be worse than the other party’s offer prior to trial or in mediation.
At Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys, Georgia injury lawyer John Breakfield welcomes anyone with any accident, injury, DUI, or reimbursement questions to Call or Email Us. Please remember that all personal injury and reimbursement initial consultations are free of charge.
About the author: John Breakfield is a Civil Litigation Lawyer with Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys in Gainesville, Georgia (GA) and regularly litigates and mediates in Magistrate Court regarding small claims, car wrecks, landlord tenant, collections, property disputes and many other civil matters. Our attorneys can assist our clients throughout Georgia including: Hall County (Gainesville, Oakwood, Flowery Branch), Gwinnett County (Buford, Sugar Hill, Lawrenceville, Norcross), Dawson County (Dawsonville), Fulton County (Roswell), White County (Cleveland), Lumpkin County (Dahlonega), Habersham County (Demorest, Cornelia), and all of North Georgia.
This article should not be considered nor relied upon as legal advice since it is only intended for general overview and informational purposes. Please consult with an attorney on your specific situation in order to determine an appropriate legal course of action.