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Getting Started

Individuals, 18 years or older, can be Claimants and sue in Small Claims Court. (A parent or guardian may sue on behalf of someone younger than 18.) Corporations, partnerships and associations cannot be Claimants in Small Claims Court; they must use a different Civil Court division, called the Commercial Small Claims Part. (Click on the "Corporations/Partnerships/Associations" section for more information.) However, a corporation, partnership or association can be sued and be a defendant in Small Claims Court.

To start your case, you, or someone on your behalf, must file, in person, a "Statement of Claim" form with the Small Claims Court. Click here for Official Forms. You may file a claim form by mail only if you live outside New York City and you want to sue a defendant located in New York City, or if you are over 65 or you are disabled and cannot come to court in person. (See section: Senior Citizen/Disabled.)

The locations of the Small Claims Courts in the five boroughs of New York City are listed here. In order to sue an individual or business in a New York City Small Claims Court, that individual or business must be located in New York City. If the defendant resides or works or has a place of business in New York City, you may file your Statement of Claim in either the Small Claims Court located in the borough you live in, or in the Small Claims Court in the borough where the defendant resides, works or has a place of business.

You will also be required to pay a filing fee ($15 for claims of $1000 or less; $20 for claims more than $1000 to $5000). When you file your Statement of Claim, the Small Claims Court Clerk will give you a date to appear for a trial of your case. Cases are automatically set for evening hours; there are also daytime court hours for people who cannot come in the evening.

When you file your small claim, you must give the Court Clerk the name and address of the person or business you want to sue (the defendant). The Small Claims Clerk will mail a notice of your claim to the defendant. (You must pay for the cost of the postage for this mailing.) This notice will also tell the defendant the date and time to appear for the trial.