Yes, you may sue in small claims court and claim that you made the loan
in exchange for her verbal agreement to repay. Agreements of that type do not have to be in writing to be enforceable. However, with only a canceled check with her name on it as physical evidence, she could still try to claim to the court that the money was a gift. Then it is up to the judge to decide whose version rings truth.
(FYI: As you can see, it would be better to have something in writing. For future reference, if you take a moment to use one of the simple "Promissory Note" forms, these things become easier.)
In general, the court should be more likely to believe this was a loan than a gift unless you make a habit of making gifts of that type to persons in this borrower's situation. You basically only have to show that "it is more likely than not" that your version is the truth. Anything you can do to add proof to your claim (such as testimony
of anyone else who witnessed or knew of the loan) would help.
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The information provided is general in nature only and shall not be construed as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.
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