District Court Versus Superior Court
In the state court system, the district courts and the superior courts have concurrent, overlapping jurisdiction. District court is the proper venue in smaller cases. The procedure is slightly different, and these cases typically move more quickly through the court system. The jurisdictional limit for civil actions in district court is $25,000.00 or less. This amount was increased from $10,000.00 effective August 1, 2013, pursuant to N.C.G.S. 7A-210 and 7A-243. If the amount claimed in your lawsuit will exceed $25,000.00, the only choice of jurisdiction would be the superior court.
Most injury lawsuits are filed in superior court. The proceedings are more formal, the jurisdictional limit is higher, and the judges are more accustomed to presiding over injury trials. The primary advantage of a district court filing is the potential for collecting attorneys’ fees for the plaintiff. N.C.G.S. 6-21.1 allows the district court judge, in the court’s discretion, to award the plaintiff their attorneys’ fees on top of the injury award. The purpose of the statute is to balance the scales so that plaintiffs with meritorious but small cases are not discouraged from pursuing those claims because they have to pay an attorney.