How to Sue for an Unpaid Personal Loan

By Aya Hadano

There are many reasons why personal loans are considered risky. Since these tend to be loans made between people and not institutions, often the borrower feels a bit less pressure when it comes to paying it back. This could be because, unlike with a bank or the Internal Revenue Service, they are not as likely to be sued. If you have been the lender of a personal loan that is unpaid, there are ways to sue to get your money back. The route you take depends largely on the amount of the loan.

Gather all of the information you have that relates to the unpaid loan, such as a promissory note, loan agreement, contract, emails, correspondence or voice-mail messages. Courts make judgments largely based on evidence of the parties, and the clearer you can state your case, the more chances you have of winning. The judge will either give his decision at the end of the trial or send out his decision at a later date.

Contact the small-claims court location within your county or the county where the loan was made. A lawsuit can be filed up to four years after a loan has been unpaid, and maybe you moved since that time. Filing at the wrong place will most likely get your case dismissed. Ask the court clerk any questions you might have, such as the dollar limit you can sue for and the overall filing procedure. A small-claims court will allow lawsuits that are less than a certain amount, and this number differs in different states.

Contact a lawyer for claims exceeding the amount accepted by the small-claims court. These cases will be judged at a civil division of the superior court, and going in without a lawyer can put you at a disadvantage. This is especially true if the borrower hires an attorney. Always ask about the lawyer's fees so that you are not surprised with a bill afterward. Also ask if the initial consultation is free.

About the Author

Aya Hadano started freelancing in 2005 and has written articles about electronics, health, audio and marketing for different clients on sites such as oDesk.com. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in marketing from The New York Institute of Technology, and an Associate of Science in recording arts audio from Full Sail Real World Education.

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