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Ten Common Mistakes in Small Claims


     By Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys

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Law Firm in Gainesville: Breakfield & Associates, Attorneys
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 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 sideís 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 Courtís ruling could be worse than the other partyís offer prior to trial or in mediation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John G. Breakfield
John Breakfield is a court registered mediator and lawyer with Breakfield & Dean, LLC law office in Gainesville, Georgia. Attorney Breakfield regularly litigates and mediates in Magistrate Court regarding small claims, car wrecks, landlord tenant, collections, property disputes and many other civil matters.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.



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