What you need to know about suing in California small claims court

What you need to know about suing in California small claims court

Camila Lopez
Camila Lopez
 | 
Small claims courts were created as “the people’s court.” They were created so you could resolve your dispute quickly, affordably, and conveniently. In this article, we will cover the basics of what you need to know about suing in a California small claims court. 

How much can you sue for?

In California, the small claims limit is $10,000 for individuals. This means that individuals and sole proprietors can sue for a maximum of $10,000. If you are suing as a corporation or LLC, you can sue for a maximum of $5,000. If you are owed more than the small claims limit you can still sue in small claims but you agree to waive any amount over the limit. For example, if your business is registered as a corporation and your customer owes you $7,000, you can sue for a maximum of $5,000. Why would someone agree to forgo suing for the full $7,000 by suing in small claims? Mainly because suing in small claims is cheaper and faster than suing in regular court. 

How long until my small claims lawsuit is resolved?

California courts are required to give you a hearing date within 75 days from when your small claims lawsuit is filed. This gives you sufficient time to also notify the person or business you have sued about the lawsuit. This notification is called “serving.” There are very strict rules for serving so it is very important you follow them correctly or your hearing will be delayed until you properly serve the lawsuit. In general, the person or business you sued has to be served 30 days before the hearing date and you cannot serve your own lawsuit. Once serving is complete, you must file the proof of service with the court. 

What types of lawsuits can be filed in small claims?

As long as you are suing for the small claims limit or less, then you can file your lawsuit in small claims. There are a few exceptions like evictions that you cannot file in California small claims as there are different types of courts that handle those types of lawsuits. 

Here are some of the most common types of small claims lawsuits:
  • Breach of Contract
  • Car Accidents
  • Security Deposits
  • Property Damage
  • Disputes between neighbors
It will cost you between $30 to $75 to file your small claims lawsuit.

No attorney representation, but…

In order to even the playing field, California courts don’t allow attorneys to represent parties at the initial small claims hearing. You can still consult an attorney before your small claims hearing for help with understanding the law, any defenses that may be brought up, and to review your evidence. If you are the one suing and you lose, you don’t have the right to appeal, so make sure you are prepared for your small claims hearing. If the person you sued appeals, attorneys are allowed to represent you and the other party at the appeal hearing. 

Mediation as an option

One really great benefit of suing in small claims is that you may have access to free mediation before your small claims hearing. Mediation is a meeting between you, the other party, and a neutral 3rd person. Many courts have volunteer attorneys participating as mediators. The mediator’s role isn’t to decide who should win, but rather, to help you and the other party discuss the legal dispute and come to an agreement. 

This article is intended to convey generally useful information only and does not constitute legal advice. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the author, not LawChamps.
Camila Lopez

Find My Lawyer

Start by selecting your legal need:
Business / Employment

Business / Employment

Family / Personal / Injury / Immigration

Family / Personal / Injury / Immigration

Criminal Defense / Civil Rights

Criminal Defense / Civil Rights

Real Estate / Housing

Real Estate / Housing

Estate Planning / Power of Attorney

Estate Planning / Power of Attorney

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"I was able to find just the right lawyer for my case. It was easy to use."

Lucy Coutinho

Client

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"Very easy for me to get connected with an experienced attorney."

Robert Knox Jr

Client

Review & Rating Images LawChamps
LawChamps Reviews

"It was super easy. It was super fast and I got connected pretty quickly."

Lenasia Smalls

Client

Client Testimonial - Triso Valls
LawChamps Reviews

"It’s easy to register and match with a lawyer according to your legal [need]."

Triso Valls

Client

Ready To Get Started?

Find Your Lawyer NowLawChamps Arrow Icon

Related Posts

What Does the Post-Pandemic Law Office Look Like?

Carrie Pallardy | 11 May, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t over yet, but with vaccines rolling out, state and local guidelines are beginning to ease. Businesses that were able to work remotely du...

Read More Arrow Icon

What May Happen When the National Eviction Moratorium E...

Jane Meggitt | 10 May, 2021

Approximately 8 million rental properties nationwide were impacted by the imposition of the Center for Disease Control’s national eviction moratorium in the wake of...

Read More Arrow Icon

Prepare for Hurricane Season with a Review of Your Insu...

Susan R. Miller | 06 May, 2021

The 2021 hurricane season kicks off on June 1 and technically runs through Nov. 30. But in recent years, we have seen storms arriving earlier than June and forming long a...

Read More Arrow Icon

Related Posts

Hire One, Help Another

LawChamps donates a portion of our revenue, investing it back into funding justice reform organizations and subsidizing the legal fees for those who cannot afford them.
Learn More