Indiana Circuit, Superior, and County Small Claims Courts: An Overview

Learn about filing a small claims case in Indiana's Circuit, Superior, and County Courts.

By , Attorney

What's the small claims dollar limit in Indiana Circuit, Superior, and County Courts?

You can ask for up to $6,000 ($8,000 in Marion County) in Indiana Circuit, Superior, and County Courts—the courts that handle small claims matters in Indiana.

Can a landlord bring an eviction lawsuit in an Indiana small claims court?

Yes, you can have an eviction matter heard in the small claims department as long as the overdue rent doesn't exceed the jurisdictional limit of $6,000 ($8,000 in Marion County). It's 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 Indiana?

Indiana has many courthouses and 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 Indiana, you can file in the county where one of the following occurs:

  • where any defendant resides or is employed
  • where the transaction or occurrence took place
  • where the obligation arose or was to be performed by the defendant, or,
  • for landlord-tenant disputes, in the county or town where the property is located.

Go to the Secretary of State's business 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 small claims court in Indiana?

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 Indiana statute of limitations is ten years for written contract cases (two years for oral contracts) and two years for injury and personal property damage cases (six years for real estate). Other limitations periods exist, depending on the type of action. 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 Indiana Circuit, Superior, and County Courts?

Yes. Individuals can have a lawyer present the claim before the judge.

Does the defendant have to answer the small claims complaint?

Written responses are not required. You should check with your court to determine if there is anything you must do other than appear at the scheduled trial to avoid an automatic loss and default judgment.

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

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

Jury trials aren't allowed, so a judge will hear your small claims hearing. A defendant who would like a jury trial can ask the court to transfer the case to an appropriate court within ten days following the service of the complaint. The defendant will also have to deposit fees to cover the cost of the jury to avoid waiving the right. If the defendant meets the requirements, the court will transfer the case from small claims to formal court.

Find out what to expect at the small claims trial.

Can I appeal an Indiana small claims case?

Either side can appeal the decision. You'll have to have your appeal on file within 30 days of the entry of final judgment. In many small claims courts, the clerk sends a notification of the entry judgment by mail, but the procedure used by your court could be different. Be sure to locate the proper date. You must comply with this and other rules or you'll lose your appeal rights. If you're confused about the process, talk with 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 court in Indiana?

Most courts include filing instructions on the court website or provide self-help services. For additional resources, try the Indiana Judicial Branch's online Small Claims Manual. You can also view Indiana law online on the Indiana General Assembly webpage. (Ind. Code Ann. §§ 33-28-3-2 to 33-28-3-10 (circuit court); 33-29-2-1 to 33-29-2-10 (superior court); 33-34-3-1 to 33-34-3-15.1 (Marion County Small Claims Court).) You'll find Indiana's Small Claims Rules of Court here. (Indiana Rules for Appellate Procedure, Rule 9, and the Indiana Rules for Small Claims, Rules 1 to 16.)

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.