There are three types of State level trial courts in Missouri: small claims courts, associate circuit courts, and circuit courts. Small claims courts deal with cases involving up to $5,000; associate circuit cases involve cases where the amount in controversy is $5,000-$25,000; circuit court cases involve disputes where the amount sought is in excess of $25,000.
One of the more common questions clients with a small claims dispute ask is whether it makes sense to hire an attorney. To be quite candid, more often than not, it does not make sense to hire an attorney if the small claim is relatively straight forward because the attorney fees will negate, in whole or in part, any potential recovery that the Judge may award. Furthermore, small claims are very lax and set up very similar to an arbitration, particularly in Saint Louis County. Each side will very often only have a few minutes to present his/her side of the story and the Judge will make a ruling. The procedural and evidentiary rules are loosened. As such, an attorney’s guidance is not always paramount.
However, that is not to say that there is no need for attorney assistance in a small claim. In cases involving complicated theories of recovery, or when there are counterclaims, crossclaims, etc., it may very well be prudent to retain an attorney to at least help you navigate through the morass.
Contact us today with questions pertaining to small claims — or matters which are appropriate for the associate circuit court or circuit court.