Small Claims FAQs & General Information
For dollar limits and filing fees for small claims cases, you may refer to Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) sections 116.110-116.950. You can find these laws at www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.html, at the Calaveras County Law Library, or at the Legal Aid Self-Help Center (209-754-1443). You can obtain small claims forms from the court clerk or at www.courts.ca.gov/forms.
For online help filling out your court forms, visit http://www.legalican.com/. For information about who must appear at the small claims hearing, see CCP section 116.540 and use form SC-109 in appropriate cases. Please note there are different rules for "natural persons" and other entities regarding how much can be claimed by the plaintiff or in a counter-claim (see below for further information). You are limited to filing no more than two claims anywhere in the State of California for over $2,500 in one calendar year. You may file an unlimited amount of claims for $2,500 or less.
EXAMPLES OF CASES HEARD IN SMALL CLAIMS
Small claims court is a special court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. The rules are simple and informal. Claims for money damages as a result of car accidents, vehicle sales, vehicle repairs, contract disputes, fence disputes, landlord/tenant disputes, personal injury, property damage, theft, trespass, nuisance, etc. may be heard in Small Claims Court. The person who sues is the plaintiff. The person who is sued is the defendant. In small claims court, you may ask a lawyer for advice before you go to court, but you cannot have a lawyer in court.
Small Claims matters are filed in the Civil Division.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS WHEN FILING A SMALL CLAIMS SUIT?
That is a legal question that cannot be answered by a clerk. Please seek legal advice or contact the Legal Aid Self-Help Center at 209-754-1443.
WHERE IS PROPER VENUE TO FILE SMALL CLAIMS SUIT?
You may file a small claims case where the incident occurred or the defendant lives or does business.
FILING SMALL CLAIMS SUIT WITH THE COURT
- You must prepare original and copies for yourself and each defendant for each case you wish to file. If you do not provide copies to the Court, you will be charged 50 cents per page for copies in addition to any other filing fee required. The Plaintiff's Claim (SC-100) consists of five pages - you must include all five pages when filing your claim.
- Do not attach any other document to the Plaintiff's or Defendant' Claim. You may submit any exhibits you may have at the time of the hearing.
- If filing by mail, send all forms and copies with a self-addressed, stamped envelope and a check or money order payable to CALAVERAS SUPERIOR COURT to Calaveras Superior Court, 400 Goverment Center Drive, San Andreas, CA 95249. All checks must contain an imprinted name and address.
PROOF OF SERVICE OF YOUR CLAIM ON THE DEFENDANT
After you have filed your claim, you must have the "Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Defendant" form (SC-100) served on the defendant at least 15 calendar days before the trial date (20 days if the defendant lives or does business outside the county). See CCP §116.340(b). Service is explained in more detail in form (SC-104B). If the defendant is a business, see form (SC-104C). These forms are available at www.courts.ca.gov/forms.
If defendant is personally served, use form (SC-104). If you use substituted service, you should also use form (SC-104A). The court clerk can serve the defendant by certified mail for a $10 fee. If the defendant refuses or does not pick up the certified mail, the court will notify you by mail. You will then need to have the defendant served personally.
GET A NEW COURT DATE IF YOU NEED MORE TIME TO SERVE THE DEFENDANT
If you have not served any defendant named in the case, you may ask for a new trial date by in writing or by going to the small claims counter in person. Your request must be received by the court at least 3 court days before the scheduled trial date. There is no fee.
EITHER PARTY CAN ASK FOR A LATER HEARING DATE
If any defendant has been served, the party that wants the trial moved to a later date must ask for this in writing. There must be a good reason, and a $10.00 fee will be charged. The person asking for a later hearing must either mail or deliver a copy of the request to all other parties in the case. The request must be received by the court at least 10 calendar days before the hearing date. Form (SC-150) "Request to Postpone Small Claims Hearing" and form (SC-152) "Order on Request to Postpone Small Claims Hearing" are available on line at www.courts.ca.gov/forms or at the court clerk's office.
HOW TO COLLECT ONCE A JUDGMENT HAS BEEN GRANTED
Please refer to the reverse of the Notice of Entry of Judgment or at the California Courts Self-Help Center.