Can't settle financial dispute? Small claims court may be a good option

PHOENIX - Wouldn't it be great if everyone just did what they said they were going to do?

You know, like finish the job you paid them for, or pay back the loan you gave them?

It seems simple enough, but sometimes you need help holding people accountable.

And if you can't settle things on your own, small claims court can be a good option.

The court handles disputes about contracts, debts, injuries and property damage up to $3,500.

It costs about $50 to file, no attorneys are allowed, but it is designed so that you can represent yourself without legal training.

And if you can prove your case, it can be worth it.

We told you about Michelle Cole's battle with a big airline

She said they lost her luggage and refused to reimburse her.

Michelle had the documentation to prove her case, so she took them to small claims court--and won

So can you. First you have to determine whether or not the law is on your side.

Unfortunately just because something is unfair, doesn't make it illegal--and you need to know the difference before you file.

Is there a law or statute that backs up your claim? Did you save receipts, emails, contracts or voicemails? Do you have pictures or video?

Next, can you prove you tried to work this out before court? That could go a long way with the judge.

And before filing, consider if you win, do they have even have the ability to pay the judgment? Because you will have to act as your own collection agency.

Keep in mind the other party can also counter sue or have the case moved to a higher court. That could mean higher filing fees, and court costs if you lose.

Let me know about your consumer issues by emailing me at or by "liking" my Let Joe Know Facebook Page and telling me about it there.

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