Answers to small claims dispute questions. If you have more questions, please chat or contact us.
The arbitrators are licensed attorneys in good standing. They are fair, neutral, and independent from our organization. Check out our arbitrator page here for more, or to sign up to join the team.
Zeyo & small claims court share many similarities and a few key differences. We’re similar in that we both handle small claims, and can render legally binding, court enforceable judgments. We’re different in that our process is private, about 10x faster, much easier to navigate, and entirely online.
We take a small filing fee at the time a claim is filed, as well as a small processing & platform fee in the event of an award.
This depends on what form of arbitration you choose to follow. If you opt to use traditional arbitration, you and the opposing party may decide on an arbitrator together, or have one recommended to you by the courthouse you have been filing with. If you choose to use Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) to resolve your small claims dispute, the platform will assign you an arbitrator, either randomly chosen, or based on their industry expertise. This arbitrator will review your claim, and gather the evidence that both parties have submitted. After moderating an online hearing, during which both parties may be questioned, the arbitrator will take some time to deliberate, and deliver a prompt and fair verdict.
If you are going through the Small Claims Court system, the steps are as follows:
On an ODR platform, a party may submit any documentary, photographic, or video evidence to support their claim, provided it is not fraudulent. The arbitrator will consider all evidence that is credible, material, and easy to access, and decide which evidence is not acceptable. Evidence that is incredible, unnecessary, unpersuasive, excessive, insufficient, redundant, or prejudicial may be disregarded by the arbitrator.
Binding arbitration is a method of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) that utilizes a neutral, third party that renders a legally binding, court enforceable judgment on a dispute between parties. The alternative to binding arbitration would be non-binding arbitration, in which case the arbitrator will suggest, rather than impose, a decision to the parties. If the arbitration is binding, both parties sign a contract agreeing to accept whatever decision their neutral third party comes to as final. In binding arbitration, after hearing the facts and the evidence, the arbitrator gives the disputing parties a court-enforceable verdict.
In traditional courts, there is a certain restriction on what constitutes "admissible evidence". Any document, testimony, or tangible evidence are generally thought to be acceptable evidence. However, Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platforms operate on the principle of "relaxed rules of evidence," which considers practically anything admissible upfront. However, all this is then subject to thorough examination by the arbitrator, who will determine what evidence is acceptable to contribute to the claim of either party.
Any method that falls into the category of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is widely acknowledged as being faster, cheaper, and less stressful than going to court. While arbitration fees will vary with the amount of the claim you are making, they will generally make up a small fraction of the monetary amount. In the case of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platforms, may include a filing fee, a platform fee, and other administrative expenses.
Small claims cases vary based on the subject matter. In general, the time it takes you to do all your research, gather your evidence, and file your small claims dispute with a clerk can take weeks to months. After that, approximately two months can pass until your court date. Until then, you can prepare yourself for your court hearing. When the appointed day comes, expect to spend all day in the courthouse, given the high volume of small claims cases. If you are fortunate enough to win, the court will rarely collect your award for you, so be prepared to take care of that task yourself. Though a few months is the standard amount of time it takes for a small claims dispute to be resolved, certain cases, such as personal injury disputes, can take up to two years.
Due to increasing use of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), paired with Information and Communication Technology (ICU), Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) platforms are becoming the future of the legal system. Now, thanks to these, you can avoid hours of laborious research, pricey court fees, and large amounts of time spent waiting for your hearing. Instead, you can do it all online. ODR platforms are often privately-run and enable you to make your claim online, submit your evidence, add witnesses to back your claim, attend a video conference hearing with a neutral and professional arbitrator, and receive your verdict.
Though some people opt to hire an attorney to help them with their small claims dispute, most people opt to handle them “pro se,” or “for themselves.” Most states have a constitutional provision allowing an individual to represent themself in the courts of that state. So in most small claims dispute cases, you may be able to get by without legal expertise. In fact, given the maximum monetary amount you are allowed to sue for in Small Claims Court, it might not make sense to hire an attorney, as the fees they charge may exceed the amount you are trying to collect, leaving you worse off then you started.
There are multiple costs associated with going to Small Claims Court. The most typical ones are the following:
Small Claims Court is a local government court that handles disputes for claims that don't exceed a certain amount, usually around $10,000. While an attorney may be utilized, often times defendants and claimants choose to navigate small claims "pro se," or “for themselves.”
Arbitration is a tool to resolve legal disputes without using a government court. This form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is agreed upon by the parties before the resolution process. Then the parties present their arguments and evidence to a neutral third-party, who issues a legally binding final judgment.
Mediation is one of the more popular tools of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). ADR involves utilizing non-litigation methods to resolve legal disputes. This form of ADR is agreed upon by both parties during the resolution process. In this case, a neutral third-party enters the dispute. The mediator seeks to help both parties reach an amicable conclusion, but does not impose a decision upon them.
If you have ever had to sue someone for an unpaid invoice, a personal injury, or any one of a number of disputes, you know that going to court is a real pain. Now reverse that scenario. You’re the one being sued. It might be because the person whose roof you’ve been fixing claims you didn’t finish the work, or because your tenant decided to get they wanted their security deposit back from you, or even because you are being blamed for the auto accident you were just in. Maybe you are responsible for whatever happened, and just made a mistake. But maybe you held up your end of the bargain, and someone is trying to make money from the situation. Regardless, it sucks to be called the bad guy.
The traditional litigation system is a real mess. It requires you to spend large amounts of time, effort, and money for an inefficient outcome. Between the paperwork needed to reply to the claim filed against you, the time spent gathering your evidence to argue your case, making the necessary copies, administrative fees, waiting for your court hearing, not to mention the cost of hiring a lawyer, the traditional courts make resolving a small claims dispute a much more laborious process than it should be.