The small claims courts in Colorado are “courts of limited jurisdiction.” The courts cannot award more than $7,500 in damages, and parties that file lawsuits in the state’s small claims courts must waive their rights to receive higher damage awards. The small claims court can only issue decisions limited to restrictive covenants, decisions on contract performance and setting aside contracts, and suits for the recovery of property or money.
After a plaintiff files a “Notice, Claim and Summons to Appear for Trial” in the clerk’s office of the small claims court, he must serve the defendant with the summons and complaint by paying a fee to a process server or sheriff’s office. Alternatively, he can ask an unrelated and impartial individual to serve the defendant with the summons and complaint. He must serve the defendant at least 15 days before the hearing date. When suing a corporate entity, you must sue the registered agent authorized to accept court documents on the corporation's behalf.
Counterclaims and Responses
If the defendant wants to contest the complaint, she must file a counterclaim or response, and the claim must arise out of the same set of circumstances or facts as the original complaint. She must sue the plaintiff for $7,500 or less, and she may not bring in a third party to serve as a witness.
Under Colorado law, if the defendant hires an attorney, then the plaintiff may also hire an attorney. However, Colorado small claims courts may award damages to the plaintiff if the defendant does not come to trial with her attorney. The bad-faith damage awards help plaintiffs avoid any unnecessary expenses of having to hire an attorney.
The Colorado small claims courts cannot decide on cases that allege libel, eviction, slander, criminal acts or traffic violations. However, Colorado law allows small claims courts to render decisions for security deposit disputes between landlords and their tenants. Additionally, small claims courts can issue decisions on auto accidents and award money damages. Under Colorado law, small claims court cases cannot be heard in front of juries and both parties must waive their rights to jury trial. Additionally, in small claims courts, magistrates, not judges, hear cases. Defendants may request a trial before judges if they file their requests in writing before their trial date.
Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.