Appealing a small claims court case is allowed in many states, while in others the decision of the judge in such cases is indisputable. If you are interested in appealing, you should first determine whether the jurisdiction you initially filed the claim in allows for appeals. A simple telephone call to the Court Clerk’s Office will give you the information you need.
If the court you are dealing with does allow for you to file an appeal, you generally have a very limited time in which to file it. Some locations require appeals to be filed within as little as ten days while others accept filings up to thirty days after the initial judgment was made. In either case, you must not miss these deadlines if you wish to take the matter further.
You can obtain your application for appeal from the Court Clerk’s Office and there is another small fee that must be paid at the time you file the appeal request.
In some states a jury can be requested for small claims appeals. Other states only allow this if the claim is over a certain monetary value.
The majority of small claims cases are not successful in appeal. In some states and jurisdictions this type of appeal can only deal with what the small claims judge did in the first hearing of your case rather than revisiting your initial claim. If the judge made a ruling based on an incorrect interpretation of the law, then you may be quite warranted in appealing the first decision.
In other states and jurisdictions an appeal means that the entire case will be heard over again by another court and a verdict rendered. In the short time that you are allowed to file an appeal, you will want to determine which type of appeal is at your disposal for the area in which your case will be heard.
If you are simply unhappy with the judgment but there were no errors in the way it was handled, you may want to forego the extra effort and time to file an appeal. If you are very sure that you are in the right despite the ruling and you meet the legal criteria for the appeal, go for it.
Many appeal courts in this country will also make awards in small claims cases if they determine that an appeal was filed merely to delay action or to harass the other party. These awards can include compensation for legal fees and even transportation and accommodations for traveling to the appeal hearing.
If your case is in an area where appeals are allowed, you will want to determine if actually filing an appeal is worth it to you or not. Many people decide to appeal based on a strong feeling that they are right about the matter. Others appeal just because they meet the legal requirements and are allowed to appeal. Other people simply choose to accept the first judge’s ruling and move on. This is a personal decision and one you will need to think seriously about.