Collecting Evidence

If you have decided that pursuing a small claims case is in your best interest, you must decide to see if it can be won with your evidence. If you need to fight an uphill battle, it may not be worth taking the case to court. Remember, the plaintiff, the person bringing the suit, has the burden of proving each element of their case. Analyzing if you can prove your case is part of the effort and research that helps you decide if you should sue.

Do you have photos of any damage? Do you have the original contract? Do you have the damaged shirt or pants? Do you have witnesses to back your case? This is called analyzing the evidence on both sides of your case.

If you took pictures then you should likely bring them to court, if they support your case. Be careful about bringing to court evidence that will support the other party's claims. - You have no duty to make the other party's case for them, but you will be testifying under oath. This means if you have the pictures in your possession, you must tell the judge you have them, if asked, or if silence or other action might suggest you are not telling the truth.

The actual goods are always excellent evidence to bring to court. If a piece of rotten wood was sold to you, bring a sample of it in. Or if your shirt was damaged, bring it in. If there are bruises or bumps, show the court. Other demonstrative evidence would be receipts, samples of defective goods, models, diagrams, maps, charts etc.

If you intend to bring maps or charts to court, you should understand that the judge does not know you or the other party usually. Understand that the judge needs to be convinced that the evidence you are providing to him/her is real and not doctored or photocopied or that something harmful to your case was not left out. Be prepared to have the original of all documents in your possession and you should be able to tell the judge from where these documents came. It would not hurt your case to have a person ready in court to testify about where the records, or lists or charts or maps came from if possible. They may need to know who drew the map of a particular piece of property or an area relevant to the lawsuit.

Be careful to be objective and to listen to your Plan Attorney's advice in many situations, if they have been through a similar circumstances.

Points to Remember

  • The plaintiff has the burden of proving each element of their case.
  • Analyze your evidence to determine if it is strong enough to win.
  • Have a person in court to testify about the source of maps or charts.
Posted in: Small Claims