Although it is possible to file a personal injury lawsuit in small claims court, there are some notable disadvantages to doing so that make this an unpopular method of pursuing a personal injury case.
Laws regulating small claims courts are dictated independently by each state, but every state has a maximum amount of money that can be awarded to a small claims plaintiff. If you are asking for less compensation than the maximum small claims limit, you may be tempted to file in small claims court because of the relatively easy and quick filing process.
Before decide on filing in small claims court, you should be aware of the following disadvantages of this method of pursuing a personal injury case:
The ruling can be appealed by the defendant
Even if you initially win your case in small claims court, this does not mean that the matter is completely resolved. If the defendant feels that there is a chance of winning by appealing to a higher court, you will have to present the case again.
This will drag out the process of resolving your case when you were probably trying to speed things up by opting for small claims court.
The small claims maximum may not be high enough
In some states, the small claims limit is very law. For example, the small claims filing limit in Kentucky is only $1,500. In most cases, this small amount of money will not be enough to provide adequate compensation for medical expenses resulting from a personal injury.
Compensation may be impossible if the defendant is insolvent
Winning a case in small claims court is no guarantee that you will actually be awarded compensation. If the defendant turns out to be insolvent and doesn't have any insurance, you will probably not succeed in getting any compensation.
You may be on your own
Some plaintiffs like the idea of being able to represent themselves in small claims court rather than having to pay a lawyer. However, plaintiffs without a lawyer have to do all of the work and research by themselves. Preparing a case for small claims court can be time consuming and complicated.
Although in some states lawyers are permitted at small claims courts, other states do not allow lawyers to be present in small claims court at all.
Your trial may be postponed
While small claims cases are usually resolved more quickly than cases handled by higher courts, the defendant may be able to put off the case by postponing the trial. Consult your personal injury lawyer for more information.