Florida County Court Small Claims Actions: An Overview

Learn about filing a small claims case in Florida County Court.

What's the small claims court dollar limit in Florida County Court?

You can ask for up to $8,000 in a small claims action filed in the Florida County Court—the court that handles small claims matters in Florida.

Can a landlord bring an eviction lawsuit in the small claims division of Florida County Court?

Yes. Evictions are heard in Florida County Court. The small claims division is also an excellent forum for other types of cases typically brought in small claims courts, such as property damage matters and breach of contract disputes.

Where should I file my small claims case in Florida?

Florida has many courthouses. You must choose the proper court location or "venue," otherwise, the defendant—the person or company you sue—will be able to ask the court to transfer or dismiss your action. In Florida, you'll file in the following county:

  • where the event giving rise to the suit occurred
  • where any one or more of the defendants sued reside
  • any location agreed to in a contract
  • where the contract was entered into
  • for an unsecured promissory note, where the note is signed or where the maker resides, or
  • if money is due but there's no agreement specifying where the suit should be filed, where payment is to be made.

Go to the Florida Secretary of State record search webpage for company information. Also, be aware that you might have other options, depending on your case. Most courts post venue rules on the court website.

What's the deadline to file a case in Florida's small claims court?

You don't have an unlimited amount of time to file a claim. You'll have to bring it within the statute of limitations period for your particular case. For example, the Florida statute of limitations is four years for injury and property damage cases, and oral and written contracts are four and five years, respectively. If you don't file within the proper period, you lose your right to sue.

Also, the statute of limitations can stop and restart depending on various circumstances, and figuring out when it expires can be challenging. For instance, if a minor is injured, the personal injury statute won't begin running until the child reaches 18 years of age. Learn more about calculating the statute of limitations.

Can an attorney represent a small claims claimant in Florida County Court?

Yes. In Florida, attorneys can represent small claimants in the County courts.

Does the defendant have to answer the small claims complaint?

Yes. In debt or trespass claims, the defendant must file a written answer within 15 days after receiving the court paperwork to avoid an automatic loss and default judgment. A defendant who files counterclaim above $15,000 can still pursue the counterclaim in the County court. If the defendant wins the counterclaim, the court will document the outcome on the record, and the defendant can take the case to a higher court. Or the defendant can waive any excess over $15,000 and accept $15,000 as the judgment.

Learn what happens if you get sued in small claims court.

Will I have a judge or jury trial in Florida small claims court?

Yes. If you're the plaintiff, you must make a jury trial demand when filing the claim. Otherwise, a judge will hear your case. By contrast, a defendant must demand a trial within five days after service (or notice of the case) or at the pretrial conference. You'll also want to find out if you're required to deposit additional funds because most courts require fees to cover juror costs.

Find out what to expect at the small claims trial.

Can I appeal a Florida small claims case?

Yes. You can appeal the decision in a Florida small claims case. In Florida, you'll have ten days from the date of judgment to file a request for a rehearing with the clerk. Either side can file an appeal within 30 days after the judgment is rendered.

You must comply with this and other rules or you'll lose your appeal rights, so be sure to find the correct date. If you're confused about the process or how to find the date you'll use to calculate the filing deadline, talk with the court clerk or a local attorney.

Will the court collect my judgment for me?

No. You'll be responsible for all collection efforts. It's a good idea to determine whether you can collect before deciding whether to sue.

Where can I learn more about small claims cases in Florida County Court?

Most courts include filing instructions on the court website or provide self-help services. For additional resources, try the Florida Department of Law Consumer Protection Division's County Court webpage.

You can also find Florida's small claims law online. Go to Florida's Judicial System webpage to view statutes, and the Florida Bar Rules webpage for court rules (Florida Small Claims Rules, Rules 7.010 to 7.350; Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure, Rules 9.110).

For detailed help with case filing, court strategy, and collecting a money judgment, see Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court by Attorney Cara O'Neill (Nolo).

Look out for Legal Changes. This overview doesn't provide all of the information needed to file a small claims case. Also, keep in mind that statutes can change, and checking them is always a good idea. How the courts interpret and apply the law can also change. These are just some of the reasons to consult an attorney if you have any questions about litigating your case or if you aren't comfortable independently verifying the law.

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