To sue to recover money or property, or to settle a contract dispute in Denver, you can file the case in small claims court if the total amount of damages you seek doesn't exceed $7,500. Small claims court procedures are governed by state laws, which apply to all Colorado jurisdictions, not just Denver. If you opt to bring a case in small claims court, you can still hire an attorney to represent you, but it usually isn't necessary. You cannot have a jury trial in Denver small claims court.
Statute of Limitations
Before filing your lawsuit, ensure that it’s not time-barred – it won’t be dismissed because the statute of limitations has expired. For example, cases involving damages for assault and battery, motor vehicle repairs and actions to recover security deposits from landlords must be filed within one year. For cases involving bad checks for which triple damages are sought, or where you are suing a health care provider, you have two years from the time the last event occurs, such as from the day a check bounces. You have three years to sue for damages based on bodily injury or property loss resulting from a motor vehicle accident, a breach of an oral or written contract, and cases that involve fraud and misrepresentation. The longest period of six years is reserved for cases to recover unpaid debts and bounced checks if you're not seeking triple damages.
Filing a Complaint
To start your small claims case, file a Notice, Claim and Summons to Appear for Trial -- Form JDF 250 available from the Colorado Judicial Branch website or the court clerk. Enter the names of all parties, the amount of damages sought and, most important, include a concise statement of the facts that form the basis of your claim. Gather all of your evidence, such as relevant documents, photos and witnesses. As of this writing, court filing fees range between $31 and $55, depending on the nature of the case. It is your responsibility to have the defendant served with notice of the suit, which may require hiring a local process server.
Ties to County of Denver
The small claims court in Denver has jurisdiction only over certain defendants, who must either reside in Denver County, be a full-time student there, be employed or have a business there, or be a landlord who is sued for return of a security deposit on a rental in the county. If your defendant doesn’t fall into one of these categories, you can't sue in Denver small claims court.
Michael Marz has worked in the financial sector since 2002, specializing in wealth and estate planning. After spending six years working for a large investment bank and an accounting firm, Marz is now self-employed as a consultant, focusing on complex estate and gift tax compliance and planning.