What Appeal Option Is There In District Or Small Claims Court In Alabama?

“What Appeal Option Is There In District Or Small Claims Court In Alabama?”

What Appeal Option Is There In District Or Small Claims Court In Alabama?You’ve been sued in district court or small claims court in Alabama by a debt collector, and it crosses your mind, “Well, what if I lose? Do I have any options?”

What if you win? Does the debt collector have any options?

The simple answer is yes. Whoever loses in small claims or in district court can appeal. Normally whoever loses has 14 days to appeal. The reason is at this lower level of district court or small claims court, we have no right to a jury trial, but at the higher level circuit court, we have the right to a jury trial.

What does that mean? We have a constitutional right in our state to have a jury trial. But if you’re here in small claims or district court, there is no jury trial, so you have to have the right to go up to the higher court and be able to get a jury trial.

That’s true whether you lose – you have the right to appeal – or whether you win your case – the debt collector has the right to appeal, because the debt collector also has a right to a trial by jury.

Keep in mind that there are these options.

Whether you win, whether you lose, there is always that 14 days. From the date of whoever wins or loses, there are 14 days from that date to appeal to what’s called circuit court, and then it starts all over, what’s called de novo. It just means you begin again.

I hope that this is helpful to you. If you are just starting the process – maybe you’ve just been sued, or you are afraid you’re going to be sued – keep in mind we have a video on your five options that we recommend everybody consider if you’ve been sued.

Briefly, those options are to consider:

  1. Bankruptcy – it’s very rare that it’s appropriate, but occasionally it works.
  2. You can fight it on your own (normally a good choice).
  3. You can settle it on your own.
  4. Or you can hire a lawyer to fight it (also a good choice).
  5. You could even hire a lawyer to settle it.

In other words, there’s bankruptcy, and then there are the do-it-yourself options and the hiring an attorney options. Definitely check out that video, and there’s a related article we think will be helpful to you.

If this article has been good for you, feel free to share it or comment below, and you can also contact us at (205) 879-2447  – or you can contact us through our website.

Thanks, and have a great day.

John G. Watts


  1. Shirley Card says:

    I was sued in small claims court in Auburn, Al. I went to court on my own, but never had a voice of the matter. Now I want to appeal.
    The court Date were May 15, 2018, What should I do?

    • John Watts says:


      Contact my office at 205-879-2447 so we can find out more about your case and help you think through an appeal. Check your order (I’m assuming you received an order where the judge ruled against you) as it will normally tell you that you have 14 days to appeal.

      There are so pros and cons to appealing.

      We’ll be glad to help you think through those options — call us and ask to speak to Carolyn at 205-879-2447.

      Talk to you soon!


  2. Stacey says:

    My aunt and uncle sued the contractor who did not correctly pour their concrete slab. (He was a subcontractor for renovations and created this outside contract.) He was removed from the job by the general contractor for poor work performance for the original renovation job and my aunt & uncle sued him for the concrete slab.

    He countersued under the contract with the general contractor. On the day of court, he hires an attorney and the trial judge ruled in his favor without submission of receipts and knowing that his counter claim was under the original contract.

    I do not believe they should pay and should appeal. They are in their 80’s and this is an outrage. What should they do?

    • John Watts says:


      Sorry this happened.

      I can’t tell you what they should do.

      But I can tell you that if they do not appeal or ask the court to reconsider (and very strict time limits so have to figure those out) then they will owe the money from the judgment and the judgment will be final.

      So very quickly I would get with a lawyer who does construction work and find out options.

      If the lawsuit was in small claims or district court in Alabama, there is a 14 day time period to appeal from the date of the judgment. (Again you must verify this). So if they don’t have time to find a lawyer they could appeal and then find a lawyer.

      Best wishes and I hope they will be successful — very frustrating to have a bad contractor and then owe that contractor money.

      John Watts

  3. Michael Veach says:

    I have to give you the complement of saying you are the first person that has provided any rationale for the right of a de novo ( been doing my homework and picking my daughter’s – Bama undergrad – Penn Stae Law third and a half year – brain.) appeal to Circuit Court. Had it been clear that “just ‘cause I ain’t happy” was grounds for appeal, I wouldn’t have wasted 8 months messing with Small Claims court; going to straight to Circuit Court. Given your explaination, it seems to me that Small Claims court is a waste of time, money, and resources; so shut it down. Any educated, industrious, person with a couple of hundred dollars to spare need not worry about Small Claims court; the dog has no teeth. I won my judgement for $5795.00 – for a business’ epic fail in installing – this is Alabama – a lift kit in an old Jeep. So the business owner appealed out of spite. Do you do Calhoun County? If I can get my hard loss back, I’ll use the extra I will be awarded to cover havimg some help being a pain in Circuit Court. I can pay even if I lose. You definitely have a better grip on this, and an ability to explain it, that I haven’t found locally.

    • John Watts says:


      Glad the article helped.

      Most people don’t appeal from small claims. The result in circuit court tends to be the same. But it is possible and now you are dealing with this in Calhoun County circuit court.

      I don’t really the type of case you are dealing with but I’m sure there are some guys in Anniston that can help you.

      I do understand your frustration — I would say maybe 1 out of 500 cases is appealed. No scientific basis but that’s my experience and belief.

      Sorry you are having to mess with this!

      John Watts

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