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Should I Represent Myself in Small Claims Court

What should you do if you have been in an accident involving a personal injury and cannot resolve your claim with your insurance company? You might be wondering if it is worth your time and effort to represent yourself by filing a lawsuit in small claims court.

If your claim is under $10,000, representing yourself in small claims court against an insurance company for a personal injury due to a car accident or a different topic such as employment discrimination is strongly recommended. However, you would be prudent to contact a personal injury lawyer before proceeding to make sure your case is in fact not worth substantially more and worth filing in a district court (up to $100,000) or even superior court (over $100,000).

Once you have determined that your case is worth under $10,000 and eligible for small claims court, do not be intimidated. Others will also be defending themselves there as well. Because of this, the evidence and procedure rules for it are more relaxed. Consult the small claims handbook issued by the Alaska Court System before your case and you will find the rules governing it.

If you decide to file your case in small claims court, do not be afraid: you will not be the only one representing yourself. The rules of procedure and evidence are very relaxed and many people represent themselves in small claims court. The Alaska Court System has a small claims handbook you should read before filing your claim. You can access the handbook here by searching for form SC_100: http://courts.alaska.gov/forms.htm.

At about 30 pages, the handbook is relatively easy to read and gives you all the information you will need to know about how the court process works. From starting your case and preparing for your trial to what to expect at the trial and what happens after the trial is over, the handbook gives thorough explanations.

However, you should consult a personal injury lawyer if you feel you do not understand the processes as described in the handbook. Personal injury claims are often worth much more than you might estimate for yourself. A consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer will give you the piece of mind that you are not underestimating the value of your claim.

You can successfully represent yourself in small claims court if you take a few steps to prepare yourself by consulting with a personal injury lawyer and making yourself familiar with the handbook issued by the Alaska Court System.