Indiana Small Claims Court Process

Indiana Small Claims Court Process

Last Updated: January 14, 2023 by Ashley Porter

Quick Facts Answer
Small Claim Maximum $10,000
Deadline to File 6 years
Filing Fees Vary by court
Appeal Deadline 30 days

Small Claims Court Basics in Indiana

Small Claims Court is an informal court designed for minor cases limited to a maximum claim amount. The trial does not involve a jury. Instead, the plaintiff and defendant present their case to the judge, who makes a decision.

Common suits filed by landlords include:

  • Recovery of unpaid rent
  • Damages that exceed the amount of the security deposit
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Early termination of a lease

Common suits filed by tenants include:

  • Failure to return the security deposit correctly
  • Failure to uphold the responsibilities of the rental agreement
  • Overcharging for damages

How Long Does the Small Claims Court Process Take in Indiana?

A typical small claims case in Indiana takes two to four months, from the date of filing, but can be longer if there are problems serving the defendant, the trial is continued, or other delays occur.

How Much Can You Sue For in Small Claims Court in Indiana?

In Indiana, the maximum amount that can be recovered through Small Claims Court is $10,000.

To attempt to recover a higher amount, the suit must be filed as a civil case in the Circuit Court.

How Long Do You Have to File a Small Claims Case in Indiana?

In Indiana, you have up to 6 years from the date of the dispute to file a small claims case for landlord-tenant disputes.

Are Lawyers Needed or Allowed in Small Claims Court in Indiana?

Small Claims Court is designed to be simple and not require an attorney in most situations.

Business entities (corporations, LLCs, etc.)must be represented by an attorney unless the claim is for less than $6,000.

Where are Small Claims Cases Filed in Indiana?

In Indiana, Small Claims Court is a division of Circuit Court (except in Marion County, Small Claims Court is separate from Circuit Court). Small claims are filed in the Circuit Court in the county where the rental property is located or where the defendant lives or works.

note

Marion Small Claims Court rules differ from Circuit Court rules. In Marion County, landlord-tenant small claims cases must be filed in the Small Claims Court within the township where the rental property is located.

To determine the correct court, you can use the court directory.

How to File a Small Claims Case in Indiana

Step 1: Obtain and complete a Notice of Claim form. Each court has its own form and may have other required forms, but they are generally in the same format as the form used in Marion County. Check with the court clerk to obtain the correct forms required to file.

Step 2: File the Notice of Claim form. Each court will have its own rules for filing a small claims case so you should check with the court before filing. Some require filing in person or electronically, and some allow filing by mail.

Step 3: Pay the filing fee. 

How Much Does it Cost to File a Case in Small Claims Court in Indiana?

The fees for filing a case in Small Claims Court in Indiana vary by court but are typically between $87 and $104. There may be additional fees for electronic filing, service, additional defendants, or other surcharges. Contact your local court clerk to determine the applicable filing fees.

What if You Can’t Afford to File a Case?

You can still file a case if you cannot afford the fees by filing a Verified Motion for Fee Waiver.

Small Claims Court Process in Indiana

After filing a small claims case in Indiana, a trial is scheduled, and the Notice of Claim and any other documents required by your local court are served on the defendant.

Step 1: Serve the defendant. Service on the defendant can be completed by certified mail, sheriff, constable, or process server. The procedure for serving the defendant varies by court, so check with your local court to determine the correct process.

Step 2: Attend the trial. On the trial date, you should bring copies of any evidence you have to support your claim. The judge will give you and the defendant an opportunity to provide your arguments before they decide to dismiss the case or issue a judgment.

If the defendant does not attend the trial, the judge will issue you a default judgment.

Winning a Small Claims Judgment in Indiana

If you win the judgment in Indiana, the other party may appeal the case, you may be paid the judgment within the allotted time period, or you may need to pursue additional actions to recover the debt.

Either party can appeal the decision within 30 days after the issuance of the judgment by filing a Notice of Appeal.

When the judge issues the judgment, they will determine a time period for repayment. In the best case, the judgment debtor pays their debt within this period.

If the debtor is delinquent on their payment or refuses to pay, you can recover the debt through bank or wage garnishment or property lien. The first step in the process is to file a Motion for Proceedings Supplemental to discover seizable assets of the debtor through a court hearing.

You have 20 years to collect or renew a judgment before it expires. A judgment collects interest at a rate of 8% per year unless a contract specifies a lower rate.

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