The Difference Between Large Claim and Small Claim

If you are representing yourself in District Court, some of the judges in District Court say that the difference between “small” and “large” claims is perhaps the most important information you need to know about the legal process.

Legal Cases in District Court
Topic Small Claim Large Claim
Amount of Claim The maximum amount of money you can try to recover is $5,000 (excluding interest, costs and attorneys fees, if any) A large claim is for any amount more that $5,000 up to a maximum amount of $30,000 (excluding interest, costs and attorneys fees, if any)
Hearing/trial Schedule

Small claims are considered a “special proceeding”. This means that district courts set aside a certain day or time for small claims cases. 

For more information, call the court clerk.

The court schedules large claim cases to be heard throughout the week during regular court hours.

For more information, call the court clerk.

Court Rules of Evidence Small claims are handled in an informal manner. The formal rules of evidence do not apply. MD Rules §3-701(f)  This means that non-attorneys will have an easier time in preparing for trial. You must follow the formal rules of evidence found in MD Rules Title 5. It is important that you read and understand these rules. An attorney can help.
Discovery “Discovery” is legal term that refers to ways in which one side can find out more information about the other side’s case. This might include interrogatories or depositions.
No discovery is allowed in small claim court. MD Rule §3-701(e) Limited “interrogatories” are allowed in large claims. This means no more than 15 written questions. MD Rule §3-421(b) You may also conduct a deposition if the other side agrees in writing (a stipulation). MD Rule §3-401(a)
Location Your local district court


A special project of the Eastern Shore Regional Library under a Library Services Technology Act grant from the Division of Library Development Services/MD State Department of Education (author: Ayn H. Crawley)
Is this legal advice?

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