Nevada Small Claims Law


Small Claims – General – Nevada

Note: This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of the law and procedures of small claims in Nevada, but it does contain basic and other information. This summary only discusses civil claims (property and money claims that may be filed in small claims court). Criminal charges are not discussed.

Definition - Small claims courts, also sometimes called “Peoples Court”, is a court of limited jurisdiction.  Limited jurisdiction means only certain matters may be filed and heard by the small claims court. There is also a maximum claim amount limitation. Small claims court offer a quick, informal and inexpensive way of resolving many types of disputes you may have with particular individuals or companies.

Maximum Amount of Claim Small Claims Court may hear in Nevada: $5,000.00

Which Court hears small claims in Nevada? In Nevada the small claims court is a division of the Justice Court. Cases which do not exceed the $5,000.00 limit are heard in this venue.

Who hears the claims in small claims court? The claim will be heard by a judge.

Claims over which the Small Claims Court has Jurisdiction:

The small claims court in Nevada may hear any of the following claims if the amount in controversy does not exceed $5,000.00:

1. recovery of money
2. landlord/tenant disputes
3. damage to property
4. The above list is not exhaustive but does contain most of the common claims. The following claims MAY NOT be heard in small claims court: libel, slander, professional malpractice, assigned claims, and punitive damages.

Who may file a claim in small claims court? An individual, partnership or corporation (or LLC)  may file a claim against another individual(s), partnership or corporation (or LLC) in small claims court if jurisdiction exists to hear the claim and the amount of the claim or property involved does not exceed $5,000.00.

Must you be represented by an attorney? Attorneys may represent clients in small claims court. However, it is at the judge’s discretion how active the attorney may be in the proceedings.

Things to do before you File a Claim: Get the facts straight so you can complete the forms correctly and answer any questions court personnel may need to know. Be sure to obtain the correct legal name of the defendant, correct address and place/address of employment.  If the defendant is a Corporation or Limited Liability Company you would use the legal corporate or LLC name as the defendant. If the defendant is a Corporation or LLC, you may need to contact the secretary of state in your state and obtain the proper name and address to serve with a copy of the suit.  This person is called a registered agent and is designated by the corporation to receive process or summons when the corporation is sued. Be sure to also contact the small claims court to determine the filing fee for filing the claim.

How to File the Claim: The plaintiff must complete a Small Claims Complaint form. All documents must be typed. The court requires one original and three copies to be submitted for filing.

Who serves the Defendant with summons or process and how is the defendant served:The court has determined that the defendant must be personally served. However, if the defendant resides in a gated community, the court will allow service by certified or registered mail. Prior approval for service by mail must be obtained from the court.

Return of Summons:Proof of service must be returned to the court within a minimum of ten working days prior to the tentative court date. If proof of service is not returned during this time period, the court date will be vacated.

Removal to another Court: A lawsuit will be removed from small claims court if the amount in controversy exceeds $5,000.00.

How are hearings scheduled? The clerk of the court will provide you with the procedure to set the case for trial or hearing at the time you file your claim.

Subpoena of Witnesses:If witnesses are required but unwilling to voluntarily attend unless they are subpoenaed, you may obtain a subpoena issued by the court clerk for service on the witness. The subpoena is an order for the witness to appear at the hearing and testify. Some employers may require that an employee be subpoenaed in order to be excused from work.

Trial Procedures: The trial procedure is generally informal than other courts although the formality will vary from county to county and judge to judge. The case will usually be called in open court and you will respond that you are present and ready to proceed. You will then be advised when to present your claim. Be prepared to present your claim in your own words. Be prepared to question witnesses if witnesses are needed.

What happens if the defendant does not appear at trial? Usually, if the defendant does not appear at trial, a default judgment will be entered in your favor for the amount of the claim or other relief.

Judgment:If the defendant fails to appear, or if the court rules for you after the hearing, a judgment will be entered by the court for the amount of the claim, or other relief sought.

Appeal:The filing of a Notice to Appeal must take place within 5 days of the entry of the original judgment.

Collection of Judgment: The prevailing party may collect his or her money judgment through a writ of execution.

Other Matters:

Are Motions allowed? Motions are allowed by the parties on a limited basis.

Continuances: A continuance will only be allowed for good cause. Each party is allowed one continuance without the approval of the judge.

Out-of-Court Settlement: If the parties decide to settle out of court, the court clerk must be notified.

When Payment is Received: When the judgment has been satisfied, the receiving party must send written notice to the court that the judgment has been satisfied.

Cross-Claims, Counterclaims, and Third-Party Claims: A party may file a counterclaim against the plaintiff.

What happens if a defendant has filed bankruptcy? If the plaintiff has filed a claim against the defendant the plaintiff is aware that the claim is listed as a debt in a bankruptcy proceeding, federal law prohibits the plaintiff from pursuing the claim in small claims court.

Common Forms used in Small Claims Court:

Claim Statement/Complaint
Summons
Return of Summons
Answer
Subpoena
Abstract of Judgment

Statutes:

Nevada Revised Statutes Chapter 73:

NRS 73.010 Jurisdiction of justices’ courts for small claims. In all cases arising in the justice’s court for the recovery of money only, where the amount claimed does not exceed $5,000 and the defendant named:

1.  Is a resident of;
2.  Does business in; or
3.  Is employed in, the township in which the action is to be maintained, the justice of the peace may proceed as provided in this chapter and by rules of court.

NRS 73.030 Costs. 1. The justice of the peace shall forthwith ascertain and charge as costs against the losing party and in favor of the prevailing party, without the filing of a cost bill, the costs of the proceeding as in other cases arising in justice’s court, which sum when received by the justice of the peace shall be delivered to the county treasurer in the same manner as other fees are delivered by the justice of the peace.

2. The prevailing party shall deposit the amount ascertained and assessed as costs with the justice of the peace before final judgment is entered by the justice.

Small Claims Rules: This summary contains some of the provisions from the Nevada Revised Statutes but does not include a comprehensive discussion of all statutes. For all statutes which apply to Small Claims actions in Nevada see http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-073.html.

If you are considering filing a small claim case, you may be interested in taking advantage of a FREE time saving alternative called the NEIGHBORHOOD JUSTICE CENTER.  The Center’s  personalized no cost mediation service may help you resolve your dispute more quickly that through the courts.  You will also have more control over the outcome.  For information on the Neighborhood Justice Center programs, call 702-455-3898.