I will represent myself, the other side may have a lawyer. Will my credit history be affected if I do not pay? How early in the process can I find out if the other side will even have a lawyer? Use an arbitrator or a judge to decide? Forget mediation.
Attorneys fees are not automatically awarded against the losing party. There must be either a statute or an agreement for the award of attorneys fees for the court to assess them against the losing party.
Agreements that typically have such provisions are: lease agreements, car loans, mortgage notes, non-compete agreements, contracts for construction, and so forth.
Statutes that allow for fees even if there is no written agreements: residential leases, bad checks, suing for unpaid wages, suing your own insurance company if it does not provide you coverage you deserve, and so forth.
When a Small Claims case is filed, a pre-trial hearing is set. The Defendant is served. If the Defendant does not show up after being served, you ge a default. If the Defendant shows up you go into mediation. No fee. If the Defendant shows up with an attorney, or the Defendant does not show up but an attorney does, you go into mediation.
If an agreement is not made in mediation, then a trial date is set.
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