Can I hire an attorney?
No. A party cannot be represented by anyone else (including an attorney). However, you are able to talk to an attorney before or after the small claims court trial to answer questions and discuss strategy.
How can I prepare for my Small Claims Court Hearing?
Small Claims Court cases are often scheduled where a number of cases will be heard in the same department at the same time (one at a time). Because the court’s schedule is very busy (and has become more busy based on state cuts to the court’s budget), the court may expect you to present your entire case in a few minutes. 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. Making sure you are prepared for the hearing goes along way toward a successful outcome. After each side has had the opportunity to present its side, the court will make a decision. The court will either make its ruling immediately, or notify both sides of its decision through the mail (make sure your address with the court is correct).
Alameda County Small Claims Court Locations
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 following locations where Small Claims Court cases are heard in Alameda County:
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
Alameda County 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. These rules are meant to be simpler than a regular civil case so that a non-lawyer can understand and represent himself or herself in court. The party who files the action or claim is known as the plaintiff. The Defendant is the person or business that is being sued. In small claims court cases in California, neither party is allowed to have a lawyer represent you at the hearing. However, you are able to consult and speak with an attorney before or after the small claims court hearing.
Which cases are filed in Alameda County?
Normally, a case must be filed in the County where the Defendant resides (lives for a person or business has its principle place of business). Exceptions to this include automobile accidents (which can be filed where the accident happened). 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 someone is under eighteen or not mentally competent, the judge can appoint a person (usually a relative) as a guardian ad litem to act on that person’s behalf throughout the case. This person only acts on their behalf with respect to that particular small claims court case.
What is small claims court mediation?
You may be asked to have your mediated before the trial. Mediation is a confidential, non-binding dispute resolution program where an impartial mediator attempts to bring both parties to an outcome that each side agrees to. Mediation can occur before the trial or even on the same day as your trial. Mediation may work for your case, but at the very least, it will give you the chance to explain your case to someone (before you explain it to the judge).
What is the most a person can sue for in Alameda County Small Claims Court?
A person cannot sue in small claims court for more than $10,000.00. A business can only sue for $5,000 or less in small claims court. A party can only file two actions that are more than $2,500 in a year. A person or corporation can file as many cases seeking $2,500.00 or less.
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.
Small Claims Court Statute of Limitations
All cases must be filed before a certain deadline called the statute of limitations. This is a legal term which simply means the deadline for which you must file your claim. The statute of limitations is different depending on the type of case. If the plaintiff suffered personal injury, the statute is two years from the injury (or when you learned of the injury). (A minor has two years from his or her eighteenth birthday). If an oral contract (or oral agreement) was broken, you have two years after the agreement was broken to file your case. If a written contract was broken, you have three years from when the agreement was broken. 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 better to file sooner, rather than later, and let the judge decide.
How long does it take my case to be heard?
Each Superior Court is responsible for one County. Time between when the case is filed to when the case is heard vary amongst each County (and even within the same County). Generally, the small claims court trial should be between twenty and seventy days after the case is filed. But, because of state budget cuts to the court’s budget, these hearings are usually being set well past the seventy day mark (which should give you plenty of time to prepare for the trial).
Filing Fee for Small Claims Court cases in Alameda County
The plaintiff must pay a filing fee when the claim is filed. If a plaintiff has filed twelve or less claims over the past twelve months, the filing fees are:
- $0 to $1,500 – $30
- $1,500 to $5,000 – $50
- $5,000 to $10,000 – $75
Once a party has filed twelve cases within twelve months, each consecutive case has a $100 filing fee.