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Ohio Small Claims Court

UPDATED: December 16, 2019

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Ohio’s small claims courts were designed to deal with legal disputes amounting to $3,000 or less in a simplified and informal process that does away with the complexities of traditional litigation. Disputes over contracts, personal injury, or small sums of money are all appropriate for small claims court if they total less than $3,000. The state, however, prohibits pursuing punitive damages or damages related to slander, libel, abuse of process, or malicious prosecution in Ohio small claims court.

Ohioans wishing to file a small claim may do so with the help of an attorney. Corporations who wish to conduct cross-examination in court or argue before the judge must use a lawyer. Small claims can be filed by or against business entities, such as corporations or partnerships, and by individuals over the age of 18.

Claim Limit: Ohio limits small claims to amounts $3,000 or less.

Where to File: File your Ohio small claim in the Municipal Court in the county in which the defendant (person being sued) resides or works, or the place in which the incident or breach of contract took place.

Kinds of Cases:There are limits to the types of cases you may bring in Ohio small claims court. Claims related to slander, libel, abuse of process or malicious prosecution, criminal cases, and those that exceed $3,000 in damages cannot be brought in small claims court. You cannot seek restitution of property in small claims, only money. Common disputes allowed in small claims court include Landlord-Tenant disputes or evictions, injury and/or property damage resulting from car accidents, and breach of contract issues.

Filing Eligibility: Individuals over 18 can file an Ohio small claim; those who are under age 18 must have a qualified adult (legal guardian or parent) file the suit on their behalf. Business entities may also file small claims.

How to File: To initiate a small claim, file a complaint with your Municipal Court. You must pay a filing fee and provide relevant information, such as the full name of the defendant and plaintiff and their addresses, amount of money sought, and a statement of the nature of the case. The court will issue a hearing date and send a notice of suit to the defendant via the court’s own certified mail process.

Help for Ohio Small Claims: Law librarians, court employees, and clerks of court may or may not be allowed to give legal advice or to provide you with specific help filing your Ohio small claim. Consult an experienced Ohio small claims attorney if you have questions or concerns. Alternatively, you can contact the Ohio State Bar or read this guide to small claims court for more information and access to legal aid and other resources. 

For more state-specific information and links to your state's small claims court resources, see Small Claims Court Information and Links.

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