Is It Worth Going To Small Claims Court For $500? Drawbacks 

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When you want to sue someone for a $500 dispute, is it worth going to small claims court for $500? 

A small claims court is a platform where small businesses and individuals can go when they want to resolve small monetary issues, typically less than $7000. 

Anyone mentally competent and above 18 years is eligible to file a claim and get help from the judges. 

Though small claims courts do not charge much for filing a case, with some courts charging less than $10, is it worth using it to solve a $500 dispute? Let’s find out.  

So, Is It Worth Going To Small Claims Court For $500?

It depends. Determining whether to go or not to go to small claims court for $500 will depend on the overall cost and resulting benefits. You do not want to spend $1000 to get $500.  

Though the cost of filing a claim is low, there are additional costs in between as the judges listen to your case. Therefore, you should consider certain factors, like how much you will spend to get your $500 back. 

Factors To Consider Before Going To Small Claims Court For $500

It would be best to consider several factors before going to a small claims court for $500. Depending on the state you and the person you are reporting reside, here are some factors to consider before going to small claims court: 

1. Overall Cost Of Going To Small Claims Court 

It is best to have an estimate of the overall cost you are going to undergo before you win your $500 back. Here are some of the expenses you are likely to incur when taking a $500 dispute to a small claims court: 

  • Court Filing Fee: It will vary from one state to the other. However, it will cost you around $10 to $75. Some courts might waive the court fees if you are a low-income earner or even have the person you are suing pay your court filing fees after winning. 
  • Servicing Fee: Servicing is informing the party you are suing that you have filed a lawsuit against them. The amount you have to pay for servicing your lawsuit will also vary depending on the court. However, it is an average of $40-$125. 
  • Time Off Work: Judges usually schedule small claims hearing during the week and business hours. Therefore, you might have to leave work for a hearing, affecting your overall wages at the end of the month. Some courts allow virtual and night hearings, which might be a reliever. 
  • Legal Representation: In most small claim courts, you must present yourself in court and be your lawyer. You cannot pay an attorney to represent you in court. However, you could hire a lawyer to educate you and help you with what you could say but not represent you in court. 

The amount a lawyer will charge you for court knowledge might be more than what you are disputing. 

It is so that some experienced lawyers can charge up to $100 an hour. Consider all you will pay and what you will miss out on from work before filing a claim. 

2. Your Winning Possibilities 

You have to know how strong your complaint is and explore all likely possibilities that you will win the claim and get your $500 back. 

Many claims usually settle even before the official hearing, and it is because no one will take you seriously until you file a lawsuit. 

Nonetheless, you must ensure you have a strong case to increase the odds of winning the claim. A strong case has plenty of evidence to support your claim. The evidence you require is dependent on the type of case you have. Some examples include: 

  • Receipts: They work best as evidence of payment. If the person you are suing claims you did not buy the goods you wish to return, you could provide the receipts as evidence.  
  • Photos or videos: They are excellent and persuasive visual evidence. You could use it to get a full refund for a defective item you bought. 
  • Invoices: You could use them when you want to sue someone for not paying you $500 for the service you rendered to them. 

You will also want to bring evidence that you provided the services you want to get paid for. Without solid evidence, your claim will be weak in court. 

2. Time And Effort It Will Take You To Sue In Small Claims Court

Though a small claims court is a people’s court that lays out its processes easily and straightforwardly, it still takes plenty of time to navigate. A simple claim can take 6 to 15 months for a judge to come up with a verdict. 

How much will you have spent in pursuit of your $500? However, if you are up to the task, that is your decision. 

Some people do not worry about what they will get, but they are after deterring people from potentially exploiting others in the same way they exploited you. 

Therefore, before committing to court, you must ask yourself, are you seeking justice or just want your $500 back? 

If you seek justice, you might go through the entire process, but if you want your money back, you should consider other cheaper options. 

3. Ability To Collect Judgment

It would be best to consider your ability to collect your money back after winning the case. You might win your case, yet the person you filed a claim against cannot pay you back. Will your time and effort be worth the results? 

Consider the person’s job and your ability to trace him down. It might be extremely hard to track down a scammer or a homeless person. 

Nevertheless, some courts allow you to place a levy on their property if the person can’t pay you immediately. 

Therefore, you can get your money back by selling their property, such as furniture. You could also garnish their wages if they have a job, and they will send a small percentage of your salary to pay off the verdict. 

Alternatives To Small Claim Courts 

Solving your dispute in a small claims court is not the only legal option you have to get your $500 back. 

And sometimes, it might not even be the best option. Here are some of the possible alternatives to small claims court that you could use to solve your dispute: 

1. Mediation

In mediation, a third party, the mediator, often a lawyer, will bring both sides together and listen to their claims. 

The mediator will help the two of you to come up with a mutual agreement without favoring any sides. 

The mediator will not decide but will instead offer a suggestion from which the two of you might either agree or disagree. Therefore, if you are searching for a judgment entirely in your favor, mediation isn’t for you. 

Mediation will work best for you if your $500 dispute is between people you know, like business partners or neighbors. Most small claims courts have policies encouraging mediation between the disagreeing parties. 

Nonetheless, mediation is cheaper than going through a court hearing, and if you find the right people, they can be your mediators for free.  

2. Arbitration 

Arbitration is similar to small claims court, and it involves bringing a third party, the arbitrator, who will listen to both parties. 

The only difference between arbitration and mediation is that the third party will make a final ruling on the case that will be legally binding to both parties. 

Going for arbitration might help you save a lot, and the ruling process will happen in a few days, if not hours. Though arbitration is cheaper than small claims courts, it is more expensive than mediation. 

3. File A Complaint With Corporate Superiors

If your $500 dispute involves a private company, you could try to contact their senior corporate offices to raise the complaint. Be sure to apply all the available evidence and explain why you raised the complaint. 

They might listen to you and even give you a full refund. The corporate might even fire the agent who wronged you if they find your complaint legitimate. It will help save other customers seeking similar services from being exploited. 

If you are dealing with a landlord dispute, contacting your local apartment association could help you get back your $500 security deposit. 

Nevertheless, it could help if you could talk through the problem and resolve it without the assistance of small claim courts. 

4. Move On

If you can’t find help and courts are expensive, move on. You can always make more money if you are still alive. Do not let $500 stress you for weeks as you try to pursue it. You might even lose at the end of it all, leaving you feeling traumatized. 

Sometimes, the risk is not worth the fight; it could be better for your health and happiness if you choose to move on. 


The cost and benefits of filing a complaint should help determine if it is worth going to small claims court for $500. 

Considering every factor, from the overall cost to your possibility of winning, you should be able to gauge whether $500 is worth going to small claims court. 

If you find it hard to bare the overall cost of raising the complaint, you could opt for cheaper options such as arbitration or mediation. Nonetheless, you could decide to be happy and move on, as the struggle to follow your case hearings could stress you out. 

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Susan Tapia is an ambitious, savvy news writer with a vibrant personality and an eye for detail. She is highly experienced in crafting compelling stories and dedicated to seeking out the truth. With her inquisitive nature, she delves deep into every subject she touches, uncovering unexpected facts that help her engage her readers. Susan has an unbridled passion for writing, and she strives to inspire others through her work. She confidently shares her thought-provoking ideas with enthusiasm and candor, making sure the world can see the truth no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Simply put, Susan Tapia is a trailblazer in the journalism industry who never fails to deliver her readers riveting stories they won't soon forget.

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