Alpine County 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. You should bring all the paperwork that supports your claim (or defense) including receipts, contracts, photographs, invoices, and any other paperwork. Bring other witnesses who were present during relevant times and can provide testimony about the incident. 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?
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 may be offered on the day of your actual court hearing, but before you see the judge. 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 Small Claims Court?
Small Claims Court is a special court whose purpose is to handle cases an efficient, inexpensive fashion. The rules for small claims court cases in Alpine 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 person who files the lawsuit or action is called 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.
Types of Alpine County Small Claims Court Cases
Many different 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.
How much does it cost to sue in Alpine County Small Claims Court?
A filing fee is required and is set relative to the amount of money you are requesting for your claim. If a party has filed twelve or less claims over the past twelve months, the fee is:
- $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.
Limits on Alpine County Small Claims Court
A person cannot sue for more than $10,000 in a case. 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.
How long do I have to wait for my case to be heard?
Each Superior Court is responsible for one County. The amount of time between when the claim is filed and heard varies between each County (and even within each County). Generally, the small claims court trial should be between twenty and seventy days after the case is filed. However, because of state cuts to the court’s budget, most hearings are now being set well past the seventy day mark.
Small Claims Court Locations for Alpine County
In Alpine County, small claims court cases are heard in 1 courthouse across the County. The website address for Alpine County Superior Court is: alpine.courts.ca.gov. Here are the following locations where Small Claims Court cases are heard in Alpine County:
The Main Courthouse is located at:100 Foothill Rd. Bldg. C Markleeville, CA 96120
The phone number is: 530-694-2113
Can I hire an attorney?
For California small claims court cases, you are not able to be represented by an attorney at the actual hearing. 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.
Small Claims Court Statute of Limitations
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 the plaintiff suffered personal injury, the statute is two years from the injury (or when you learned of the injury). (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 there is a written contract, the plaintiff has three years to file the case from the date the defendant breached the contract. If the defendant committed fraud, the plaintiff has three years from when the plaintiff first learned of the fraud. It can be very difficult to determine when the statute of limitations begins to run (even for veteran attorneys). It is far better to file the case and let the judge decide, rather than filing too late and having it dismissed.
Which cases are filed in Alpine 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). 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 you are under 18 or not mentally competent, the judge must appoint a guardian at litem to represent you in small claims court. A guardian ad litem is an adult appointed by the court to represent that person only for that case.