Small Claims Database

A listener wants to know if there is a searchable database for small claims cases.  I’m Amy E. Feldman.

Listener Steve D. was in a minor car accident.  He wanted to know if there’s a database of small claims cases in order to find out more information about the other party and see if he’s done this before.  Well, Steve, there’s good news and bad news.  The good news is that databases for federal and most state court systems, including many, but not all small claims courts are searchable.

The bad news: at many courts, you have to know not just the name of the other party, but also the date the other cases were filed in order to do a search, which doesn’t help at all if you’re trying to find out if there were other cases.  And more bad news, even if you find there were other cases, that doesn’t mean it would be admissible in your current case.  The good news is that given the dollar limit for a small claims case is between two thousand and twenty-five thousand dollars depending on the state, you’re not risking all that much by not having perfect information about your opponent.

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