Options After Losing a Small Claims Case

Below are the options of What happens if the plaintiff loses in small claims court

  1. Final Decision After Losing a Case You Filed
    • If you sued the other party and lost without receiving any monetary award, the magistrate’s decision is final. You cannot appeal this decision.
  2. Options After Losing a Case Filed Against You
    • If you were sued by the other party and lost, and the magistrate ordered you to pay money, you have several choices:
      • Pay the full judgment within the specified time.
      • Request a payment plan from the magistrate.
      • Appeal to a judge or jury.
      • File a motion to vacate (void) the judgment.
  3. Paying the Full Judgment
    • You must pay the full judgment if financially able, excluding income exempt by law.
    • Failure to pay may result in contempt of court, potential imprisonment, or additional costs.
    • Pay directly to the judgment creditor unless otherwise ordered by the magistrate.
    • Ensure the judgment creditor notifies the court in writing after full payment.
  4. Turning Over Property to the Judgment Creditor
    • If the magistrate ordered you to surrender property to the judgment creditor, you must comply.
  5. Requesting a Payment Plan
    • During a payment hearing scheduled by the magistrate, you can ask for an affordable payment plan or request a determination of your inability to pay.
    • Complete a Financial Statement of Judgment Debtor form and bring relevant financial documentation.
    • Some income is exempt from payment orders; provide evidence if applicable.
    • Don’t wait for a court appearance to request a payment plan to avoid additional costs.
  6. Appealing to a Judge or Jury

    • If you disagree with the magistrate’s decision after appearing at trial, you may appeal for another trial by a judge or a jury.
    • File a Defendant’s Claim of Appeal form within 10 days of receiving the magistrate’s decision.
    • Indicate your preference for a trial by judge or jury, pay the appeal fee, and provide a refundable appeal bond or deposit.
    • Larger bond or deposit if you are a landlord facing a residential tenant’s security deposit claim.
    • The judge or jury will make a new decision, considering the magistrate’s previous ruling.
  7. Filing a Motion to Vacate the Judgment

    • Regardless of your appearance at the magistrate’s trial, you can request to vacate (cancel) the judgment if you have a valid reason.
    • Make this request within one year unless based on not receiving notice of the small claim.
    • Seek assistance from the clerk’s office to file and schedule a Motion to Vacate Judgment form.