Small claims court is a unique type where you may resolve minor issues swiftly and inexpensively with simple rules and guidelines because every small claims court has an informal hearing.
And it would help if you represented yourself. If you file a small claims court case against the other party, you are the plaintiff, and if the other party sues you, you are the defendant.
I am Los Angeles personal injury attorney Michael Ehline. My previous article discussed suing in small claims court over a car accident injury. In this informational article, I discuss suing in small claims court generally.
Are you ready to go to small claims, file papers with the court clerk, and hire a process server to serve the defendant? Let’s discuss legal self-help, from landlord-tenant disputes to property damage and self-representation in breach of contract claims below!
Small claims court is a unique type of court where you may resolve minor issues swiftly and inexpensively with simple rules and guidelines because every small claims court has an informal hearing, and you must represent yourself.
If you file a court case against the other party, you are the plaintiff, and if the other party sues you, you are the defendant.
A Plaintiff in Small Claims Courts
As an individual, you may file a claim in small claims court if your claim is for less than $10,000. For instance, if you are a plumber operating under the name ABC Plumbing and wish to sue a customer who has not paid you, you may submit a claim for up to $10,000. Your maximum claim amount is $5000 if your firm is a corporation, partnership, or any other kind of organization other than a sole proprietorship with a fictitious business name.
In California, you may not file more than two small claims court cases totaling more than $2,500 each calendar year.
Lower municipal minimum jurisdiction type courts allow people to bring relatively minor claims before a small claims judge (trial by judge only) without incurring considerable expense in the form of the filing fee and attorney’s fees, and it’s a simple, inexpensive, and reasonably fast alternative to a full-blown lawsuit in a civil court.
Is Your Case Eligible for Small Claims Court?
If your claim meets the small claims court’s jurisdictional requirements of a maximum monetary limit ranging from $2,000 to as high as $10,000, you may file your lawsuit. But you may have to file your case for a hearing in a court with a higher jurisdictional limit, such as opting for a superior court hearing in other courts if your dispute exceeds your state’s limits.
Filing Small Claims Court Case
Once you’ve decided to file a small claims lawsuit, you must choose where to file your lawsuit. If you want to decide the proper county for filing your claim and understand your options, call the Ehline Law Firm for personalized legal advice for your civil cases, and our committed lawyers will help you.
Whether you are suing someone in small claims court or someone is suing you, it’s vital that you put personal feelings about the case on the shelf and think objectively or work with Ehline Law Firm.
It May Be Worth Suing?
Maybe. Once you’ve calculated your total costs, including lost wages, personal injury damages, and fees, filing a claim can cost you anywhere from $100 to $2,000, which possibly cancels out your financial gain and may even be less than the owed money. In some cases, you may ask that the court includes the incurred costs in what the defendant owes you.
Consider what you would take as a monthly payment or what you could afford to pay monthly, contact the opposing party, and have an open dialogue about settling the case.
Settlement helps all parties because it gives Defendant one final opportunity to work out a monthly payment plan with Plaintiff and favors Plaintiff because if Defendant defaults on the settlement, Plaintiff will get a default judgment from the court.
If you are settling a case in California Small Claims Court, there are forms that you may fill out and sign with the opposing party and then file with the court to bind the settlement with a demand letter (free sample demand letter here) that will state how much money involved with the court clerk.
Claim a free consultation with our team about small claims court by calling Ehline lawyers at (213) 596-9642.