FAQ’S About the Small Claims Process
1. How much can I sue for?
Starting January 1, 2012, all natural persons (not a business) in California may claim up to $10,000. Businesses are limited to claims of $5000.
The exception to this rule for at least a few years is where you are suing someone who caused you personal injury. If the person who injured you, the defendant, is insured by his/her insurance policy the total demand for damages is capped at $7,500.
2. What if I lose?
If you are the plaintiff you have no right to appeal. If you are a defendant or cross defendant, you do have the right to appeal.
3. How do I get my money if I win?
Unless there’s insurance coverage, a defendant’s wages, bank accounts, car, house, business property and rental income are all potential sources for collecting. Initially though the best way to start collection is making an agreement with the defendant for payment. If the judgment isn’t paid 30 days after the clerk mails a Notice of Entry of Judgment, the defendant is required to send you a Statement of Assets, listing all potential sources of money to satisfy the judgment.
4. How much does to cost to file?
The filing fee depends on the amount you are trying to recover. Filing fees range from $30-$75. You will also have to pay costs to serve the defendant(s) which change based upon the method of service.
5. What if I need an interpreter?
The court will not provide an interpreter but you can bring a friend or relative to interpret for you.
6. Will you represent me on an appeal?
Yes. Lieb & Lieb represents parties in appeals from small claims court.
7. Can I put a lien on someone’s house or other real estate?
Yes, once you have a judgment and if it does not get timely paid.
8. Can I settle out of court?
Yes, if both sides are willing to settle a case you certainly can resolve it without going to court and you need to make a demand on the other person either in writing or orally before you file a small claims action.
9. How long does it take to get a hearing?
You should have a court hearing within 40 days.
If you’re confused about your options in small claims court, give us a call at (619)-265-1811 and we can walk you through the process and explain your options.