What types of cases are filed in Alameda County Small Claims Court?
All types of cases can be filed in small claims court. Some common types of cases are automobile accidents, property damage incidents, homeowners association disputes, landlord tenant disputes (possible over security deposits), and contractor disputes.
Where are Small Claims Court Cases Heard in Alameda County?
Small Claims Court cases are heard in 3 courthouses across the County. The website address for Alameda County Superior Court (which will have more information for small claims court cases) is: www.alameda.courts.ca.gov. Here are the locations:
Rene C. Davidson Courthouse
The Rene C. Davidson Courthouse is located at:1225 Fallon St. Oakland, CA 94612
The phone number is: 510-891-6025
Hayward Hall of Justice
The Hayward Hall of Justice is located at:24405 Amador St. Hayward, CA 94544
The phone number is: 510-891-6025
Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice
The Gale-Schenone Hall of Justice is located at:5672 Stoneridge Dr. Hayward, CA 94544
The phone number is: 510-690-2705
Can I file my claim in Alameda County?
Usually, a claim must be filed in the County where the person or business being sued resides. There are some exceptions to this rule (for example, an auto accident can be filed in the County where the accident occurred). A person can file an action in small claims court if that person is at least 18 years old or a child who has been emancipated. If a plaintiff is under eighteen or mentally incompetent, a judge will appoint someone (normally a relative) as a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is an adult appointed by the court to represent that person only for that case.
Alameda County Small Claims Court Filing Fee
The plaintiff must pay a filing fee when the claim is filed. If you filed twelve or less claims over the past twelve months, the filing fee is:
- $0 to $1,500 – $30
- $1,500.01 to $5,000.00 – $50
- $5,000.01 to $10,000.00 – $75
If you filed twelve or more small claims court actions in the last twelve months, the filing fee is a constant $100.00.
Limits on Alameda County Small Claims Court
A person cannot sue in small claims court for more than $10,000.00. A corporation (or other entity that is not a natural person), cannot sue in small claims court for more than $5,000.00. A person can only file two small claims court actions for more than $2,500 in one year. A person or corporation can file as many cases seeking $2,500.00 or less.
What is Small Claims Court?
Small claims court is a special court where disputes between parties are handled quickly and inexpensively. The rules for small claims court cases in Alameda County are the same for any county in California. The rules for small claims court are simple and informal compared to the rules of regular civil cases. The person or business that files the action is the plaintiff. The Defendant is the person or business that is being sued. For small claims court cases in California, neither the plaintiff or the defendant is allowed to hire an attorney to represent them at the hearing. However, you are able to consult and speak with an attorney before or after the small claims court hearing.
Can I hire a lawyer?
A party is not able to be represented by anyone else in small claims court, including an attorney or lawyer. A party can discuss the case with an attorney before or after the the case to answer questions and help a party prepare for the hearing.
How much time do I have to file my case?
All claims must be filed before the statute of limitations has run. The statute of limitations is a legal term that means the time someone has to file a claim. The statute of limitations is different depending on the type of case. If you were hurt, you have two years from the date of the injury or the date the injury is discovered to file your claim. (A child has two years from the date of his or her eighteenth birthday to file a case). If an oral contract (or oral agreement) was broken, you have two years after the agreement was broken to file your case. If the contract was written, you have three years from the date the contract was breached or broken to file the case. If the defendant committed fraud, the plaintiff has three years from when the plaintiff first learned of the fraud. It is often difficult to find out when it is too late to file. It is far better to file the case and let the judge decide, rather than filing too late and having it dismissed.
How long do I have to wait for my case to be heard?
Each Superior Court is responsible for one County. The length of time between when the case is filed and when the hearing is varies for each county in California (and even within each county). Generally, you will go to court between twenty and seventy days after the claim is filed. However, because of state cuts to the court’s budget, most hearings are now being set well past the seventy day mark.
How can I prepare for my Small Claims Court Hearing?
Your case will probably be on the same calendar and heard at the same time as a number of other small claims court cases. Often, the court’s schedule is very busy, and the court will expect you to present your argument in just a few minutes. (It is usually smart to pay attention to the cases heard before yours to see which issues and questions the judge asks the parties). It is very important to spend time preparing for your case ahead of time. Bring any and all documents that support your case including: receipts, photos, contracts, and any other relevant documents. Make sure you bring any witnesses you need to the hearing if they are necessary to prove your case. Ensuring that you are prepared for your case goes along way to securing a successful outcome. After the judge has heard both sides, the judge may either make a decision at the hearing or later and send notice of the ruling to the parties by mail.
What is small claims court mediation?
Your Alameda County Small Claims Court cases may be sent to mediation before it is heard at the actual trial or hearing. Mediation is a procedure where each side discusses the case with a third party (called the mediator), and the mediator tries to reach an agreement that both sides agree to. Mediation may be offered before your trial or the very same day of the trial. It is nothing to be scared of, just your chance to explain your side of the case to the mediator about what happened.