Small Claims court is a special civil court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. The rules are simple and informal. You may ask a lawyer for advice before you go to court, but a lawyer is not allowed to represent you in court.
Generally claims are limited to $5,000. However, an individual may claim up to $10,000. Corporations, partnerships, governmental entities, and other legal entities cannot claim more than $5,000. You can file as many claims as you want for up to $2,500 each in a year. But you can only file two claims a year that demand more than $2,500.
There are a few exceptions to the $10,000 limit for individuals:
- If you are filing a claim for bodily injuries as a result of a car accident against a person who has car insurance that includes a "duty to defend," you can only sue that person for $7,500.
- Also, as a natural person, you can only sue a guarantor for up to $6,500 ($2,500 if they do not charge for the guarantee). A "guarantor" is a person or company that promises to be responsible for what another person owes. (If you are an entity other than a natural person and the guarantor charges for its services, you may file a claim for up to $4,000.)
- But, you can sue the Registrar of the Contractors (the executive officer of the Contractors State License Board) as a guarantor for up to $10,000.
Collections agencies cannot sue in small claims court to collect on debts that are assigned to them.
For more information click the links below:
- Small Claims Mediation
- Watch a Video on Resolving Your Small Claims Case
- Fill Out Small Claims Forms
- Preparing for a Small Claims Trial - English flyer / Spanish flyer
- Information on How to Get Ready for Small Claims Court (pdf)
- Information on How to Collect Your Judgment (pdf)
- California Department of Consumer Affairs
Small Claims Advisor
A Small Claims Advisor is available to give assistance to anyone who is involved in a Small Claims case or who may become involved in a Small Claims case. The Small Claims Advisor can also help with Small Claims appeals as well as “post judgment” matters such as collection of money by writs and liens. For information regarding contacting the Small Claims Advisor, click on the links below.
Effective June 1, 2014, Small Claims Advisory in-court consultations will be temporarily suspended until further notice.
Contact the Small Claims Advisor by telephone:
(Desert Region): 760.393.2163
IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: The Small Claims Advisor will not be available on Friday, January 30, 2015. Regular telephone advisory services will resume on Monday, February 2, 2015.