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How Small Claims Court Works | New Jersey

by | Aug 7, 2023 | None | 0 comments

Small Claims Court in New Jersey is a feasible option for residents with a financial dispute seeking affordable and efficient resolution without hiring an attorney or going through a complex legal process.


This guide will walk you through filing a small claim in New Jersey and help you navigate the system easily and confidently. So, whether you’re dealing with a business or an individual, keep reading to learn how to resolve your dispute.


New Jersey Small Claims Limit


The maximum amount a New Jersey Small Claims Court can award is capped at $5,000, meaning the court has the authority to preside over cases involving a $5,000 or lower small claims court limit.


However, if the amount you seek to recover falls between $5,000 and $20,000, filing your lawsuit in the Special Civil Part Court is appropriate. The Law Division of the Superior Court handles claims that exceed $20,000.


Small Claims Rules in New Jersey


Before initiating a small claims case, learning about small claims rules in New Jersey is important. This guide provides information about how to file a small claims case. For additional information, you can find the small claims court rules on the official website of the New Jersey courts.


Nature of Small Claims Handled


The types of disputes handled include:

  • Breach of contract: A dispute arising from an agreement between two parties, where one party has failed to fulfill their obligations under the contract.
  • Property damage: A dispute where one party has caused damage to the property of another party.
  • Consumer complaints: A dispute between a consumer and a business, such as a dispute over a faulty product or service.
  • Landlord-tenant disputes: A dispute between a landlord and a tenant, such as a dispute over rent or damages to a rental property.


Demand Letter


Before you file a small claim, you should send the defendant a demand letter. It is crucial to make the demand letter explicit in outlining the type of disagreement, the amount of compensation sought, and a specific deadline by which the defendant must respond.


If you require help writing a demand letter, JusticeDirect will be handy in helping you generate one tailored to your circumstances.


Should the defendant opt not to respond or decline to make payment, you can initiate the legal process of filing your claim.


Time Limitation When Filing a Small Claim


In New Jersey, the statute of limitations is a deadline by which you must take legal action, or else you lose the right to file the lawsuit, possibly forever. The time frame for filing many small claim cases, including claims for breach of contract and property damage, is six years.


Filing In a Small Claims Court NJ


To initiate a small claims case in New Jersey, the plaintiff must file a complaint with the court in the county where the defendant resides or if the defendant is a business where the business resides. If the defendant does not live or do business in New Jersey, you must file the complaint where the incident occurred.


The plaintiff must provide their full legal name, address, phone number, the defendant’s information, and a short statement explaining the reason for the lawsuit.


The plaintiff must also fill out a summons form to notify the defendant of the case. Both forms can be obtained from the court’s clerk or online on the New Jersey Judiciary website.


Court Fees


Small Claims Courts can provide an economical resolution for disputes involving small sums of money because the filing fees to sue are reasonably low.


When filing a legal claim, the fee to sue a single defendant is $42, including the filing and service fees.  The cost to sue each additional defendant is $12, including the filing and service fees. 


Serving the Defendant


After you file the complaint and summons with the court, the court will serve the defendant by either mailing or delivering the filings. 


The Court Hearing


The court will schedule a hearing after you file your papers with the court. At the hearing, both parties will have an opportunity to present their case and provide evidence. The judge will then make a decision based on the evidence presented. If the defendant fails to appear in court, the court may find that they are in default, and you will win the case.  


Enforcing the Judgment


If you win the case, the court will issue a judgment in your favor. However, it is your responsibility to collect the damages awarded. If the defendant refuses to pay, you may need to take additional steps to enforce the judgment, such as offering the defendant a payment plan, garnishing wages, or placing a lien on the property.


Small Claims Court NJ


If you need more information about Small Claims Courts in New Jersey, you can visit the official website of the New Jersey courts. You can also contact the small claims division of the court where you plan to file your claim. They can provide information on the rules, procedures, and fees in New Jersey.


Get the Help You Need for Your Justice Quest


JusticeDirect is an online legal platform designed to provide affordable and convenient access to legal services for both individuals and businesses. JusticeDirect can assist you in several ways:

  • Help you prepare a free demand letter quickly and easily before filing a small claims case.
  • Provide comprehensive assistance to plaintiffs and defendants throughout the legal process, guide you in understanding your rights and responsibilities, and provide detailed instructions on filing a small claim, including the required forms, fees, and deadlines.
  • Help you evaluate the risks and benefits of taking someone to court and decide whether to proceed with your case.
  • Allows you to generate filing forms quickly and easily, saving time and ensuring you complete your documents accurately and comply with court rules.
  • Help you avoid common pitfalls and ensure your case proceeds smoothly.



The quest for justice is never easy, particularly when it comes to getting your money back. However, thanks to advances in technology, it has become easier. Quest for Justice’s first app, JusticeDirect, is the only app of its kind designed to support people without lawyers to resolve their disputes and get their money back, both in and out of court. The first step to getting money back is through a letter demanding payment from the other party JusticeDirect offers customizable demand letters for free. If the letter demanding payment does not work, then the next step is taking them to court. JusticeDirect* will guide users every step of the way through the small claims court process by helping them:


  1. Understand the legal process;
  2. Evaluate the pros and cons that come with taking someone to court;
  3. Generate small claims court forms; and,
  4. Avoid common mistakes when filing your forms and serving notice on the other side.
*Currently, JusticeDirect can only help litigants sue in California’s small claims court.

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