Supporting small-business owners who choose to represent themselves in court

Posted by: Jordan Wallace  | Thursday, February 18, 2021

For some small-business owners who often make trips to small claims court, court costs and attorney fees can add up fast and sometimes outweigh the benefits of the claim itself. I am working on legislation to help remove a roadblock for business owners who may opt to represent themselves to help save money and time.

My legislation builds on a law from last year, which increased an individual's amount they can represent themselves up to, from $1,500 to $8,000. Small businesses were not included in this change, so I am now working to raise the threshold for businesses to match individuals.

Under the current law, many owners would rather pay the cost of a claim, regardless if they would have won, because the attorney fees alone would be more than the claim itself.

According to the Indiana Courts Public Portal, 102 small claims cases were filed in Crawford County in 2019. Businesses may find themselves in small claims court for several reasons such as back-rent owed from tenants, securing stolen property, or repayment of money for faulty or incomplete work. My bill would give corporate entities, limited liability companies and limited liability partnerships the opportunity to represent themselves for claims up to $8,000.

Businesses that would like more information regarding small claims court can visit in.gov/courts. This site includes several resources, including an Indiana Small Claims Manual, an Indiana Small Claims Rule document, a video providing information on representing yourself in small claims court and more.

House Bill 1110 passed out of the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee. If there is anything I can do for you please contact my office by emailing h74@iga.in.gov or calling 317-232-9802, and visit iga.in.gov to find more information about this bill and others.

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State Rep. Stephen Bartels (R-Eckerty) represents House District 74,

which includes portions of Spencer, Dubois, Perry, Crawford and Orange counties.

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