California Legal Claims

If you decide to file a small claims lawsuit, be prepared to put in some time and effort. This includes preparing for the hearing, gathering evidence, meeting with witnesses, and participating in the hearing in person. Another form that a small claims court applicant needs is the fictitious name of the company [Declaration] (Form SC-103). Companies that use fictitious trade names – for example, “Joe Jones does business as Joe`s Garage” – must sign this form and file it with the court. In this written statement, a representative of the company (for example, the owner) must swear under oath that the suing company has complied with California`s fictitious trade name registration laws. A business must comply with California`s business registration laws to use Small Claims Court. If the company is not compliant, the necessary steps must be taken before submitting any action. If your claim exceeds $2,500, you will be asked to check the box on your application form (Form SC-100), which indicates that you have not filed more than two lawsuits for more than $2,500 in the calendar year. If you are a natural person (an individual) and can therefore claim up to $7,500, you still cannot file more than two small claims for more than $2,500 in the calendar year. Rent deposit disputes between landlords and tenants, property damage, car accidents, and recovery of money owed are the most common reasons why people file minor lawsuits. With a few limitations, almost any dispute can be brought in small claims court, provided the amount of money requested is within the maximum amount allowed by state law. If your claim exceeds the small claims limit, you can file a case with the regular superior court, where you can either represent yourself or hire a lawyer to represent you. Instead of doing so, you can choose to reduce the amount of your claim and waive (waive) the rest of the claim to stay within the Small Claims Court monetary limit.

Before you reduce your claim, discuss your plans with a small claims consultant or lawyer. Once the dispute has been heard and decided by Small Claims Court, your right to collect the amount you are waiving will be lost forever. Small Claims Court handles cases involving disputes over money or property, usually below a set financial limit. In California, a person can collect up to $7,500 in small claims court, while corporations and limited liability companies are still limited to $5,000. Keep in mind that the cost of hiring a lawyer and the time spent in civil court can quickly exceed these limits. Alternatively, presenting a small claims procedure can provide a more accessible solution to resolve disputes at a much lower cost. You must pay a small claims court filing fee when you file your case. If you cannot afford these costs, you can ask the court to waive (forgive) these costs. You can apply for a judicial exemption by completing and filing an application for a waiver of court fees (Form FW-001). For information on the standards that the court will apply when approving or rejecting your application, ask the Clerk the Clerk for the Waiver of Court Fees and Expenses Fact Sheet (Form FW-001-INFO) or visit the Judicial Council`s self-help website and print your own copy.

The Small Claims Court is a special court where disputes can be resolved quickly and cost-effectively. In small claims courts, the rules are simplified and the hearing is informal. Lawyers are generally not allowed. The person making the claim is called the claimant. The person against whom the action is brought is called the defendant. They are also called applicants or parties. You don`t have to be a U.S. citizen to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you don`t speak English, read about an interpreter. A representative appearing in small claims court on behalf of a defendant should present at the hearing a completed and signed power of attorney to appear on behalf of a party (Form SC-109).

For example, this exception to the general rule of self-representation could allow a dentist`s accountant to represent the dentist in an action to recover a patient`s account. However, if the patient claimed that the dentist`s services were being provided unnecessarily or improperly, the matter would be on a different question of fact and the dentist would have to appear in person at the hearing. As with all debt and account collection lawsuits, the claimant`s claim form must include a breakdown of all fees and costs added to the original loan amount or agreed price. In the following situations, a party does not have to appear in court and may either send a representative or make written statements to prove its claim or defense. However, the representative cannot be compensated and will be disqualified if he or she has appeared in small claims actions four or more times during the calendar year as a representative of others. Only the largest counties are divided into judicial districts. If a county is not divided into two or more judicial districts, a lawsuit that can be properly filed in that county can be filed with any small claims court in the county. A small claims consultant can also show you a map showing the locations of jurisdictions in counties (such as Los Angeles County) where there is more than one jurisdiction in the county.

To determine which court or tribunals might be appropriate in your situation, it is advisable to consult a small claims consultant. You will save yourself and the other party a lot of possible problems and costs if you carefully select the court where you are taking your legal action. If you decide that mediation (not small claims court) could resolve your dispute, ask the clerk if small claims court offers a mediation program. If not, the clerk may be aware of a publicly funded program in your riding. You can also find a mediation program by checking the line of business in your phone book or by calling the California Department of Consumer Affairs at (800) 952-5210. People with hearing loss can call (800) 322-1700 (TDD) or (916) 322-1700 (TTY). A list of mediation programs can also be found on the California Department of Consumer Affairs ( website. The Secretary of State`s website contains registers of partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies and partnerships. The Secretary of State also keeps records of the names and addresses of senior managers of companies and their representatives for the service of the case, each of which can be served with the claim in a small claim.

For instructions on how to retrieve this information, call (916) 653-6814 or (916) 657-5448 (recorded message). You can download the instructions and a purchase order from the Minister of Foreign Affairs` website at For an additional fee, the Secretary of State will fax you the requested information. With a few exceptions, anyone can sue or be sued in small claims court. In general, all parties must represent themselves. One person can sue another person or a company. A company, in turn, can sue an individual or another company. An assignor (a person or corporation suing on behalf of another person, e.g., a debt collection agency), however, cannot bring an action in small claims court. A federal agency cannot be sued in Small Claims Court. If you have any of these problems, you will have a hard time solving it, small claims court could be your ideal way.

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