Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to helping you today.
I'm not sure what you mean by "how can I start a small claim petition", since it is just a matter of filling out a form or drafting one from scratch. Almost all small claims offices in Texas have a form for you to use. You can also find one at www.TexasLawHelp.org.
As to how to what else you need to do.
The process of a lawsuit is essentially the same everywhere, with a few, minor procedural differences.
A lawsuit generally follows this process:
1) File the petition in the court with jurisdiction and venue. The court with jurisdiction and venue is usually where the defendant resides or has their place of business. You also have to look at the amount you intend to sue for to determine what court is correct
2) When you file the petition with the clerk of courts you will pay the filing fee and also ask for citation to be issued and service to be done. The clerk doesn't serve the papers so ask them if you have to take them to the sheriff's office for service or if they will do it. Just follow their directions as to that.
3) The sheriff will serve the defendant with the lawsuit.
4) The defendant will file their answer.
5) You can then do some discovery if necessary but you will need to check with the clerk and ask if your court allows discovery. Some small claims courts do not.
6) After that the next step is to set the case for trial.
7) During the trial you introduce your evidence and they introduce theirs.
8) The judge renders a judgment and a written order is entered.
That is the basic process of a lawsuit.
There is a good, inexpensive ebook on representing yourself at small claims court at http://www.lessonsinlaw.com/the-guerrilla-guides-to-the-law/the-guerrilla-guide-to-small-claims-court/
The costs vary by county but it is usually $300 or so.
If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work. Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered.