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I've never used the small claims court to sue large companies. But in genuine disputes my partner and I have used it to sue small businesses where we have been aggrieved. In every single case we've won, even when the disputes were against lawyers for their fees. I know so many people who have been badly treated (e.g. landlords keeping entire deposits claiming because some minor damage happened during their tenancy). Yet none of my friends ever carry through and seek legal justice. I just don't understand their fear of the very simple small claims procedure.

I know it varies by state, but where I live (MA) the small claims limit is $2000. When you take into consideration the amount of time you're sinking into the case, and the risk that you might not win, there is only a small range of damages that are likely worth pursuing in small claims court. If you're in a line of work where you routinely sign contracts, you probably have clearer-cut cases than the average landlord-tenant situation. I think most people hardly understand most contracts they sign, and doubt they understand the range of options offered by the legal system.

So two things would help: raising the small-claims limit (I think $8k or so would make sense) and educating people about the option. Follow-up question: do shows like People's Court serve or hinder the mission of educating people about small claims court?

Getting a judgment is one thing. Getting the money from the person you sue is not always easy even if you have a judgment.

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