Contra Costa County Small Claims Court, California

What is Small Claims Court?

Small Claims Court is a limited court designed to handle disputes and disagreements both quickly and inexpensively (at least compared to a general civil case). The procedures and rules of evidence for small claims court cases in Contra Costa 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 or business that files the action is the plaintiff. The person or persons who is being sued is called the defendant. 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.

Small Claims Court Hearing in Contra Costa County

Contra Costa County Small Claims Court
Contra Costa County Small Claims Court
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 important to prepare for your case beforehand. You should bring all the paperwork that supports your claim (or defense) including receipts, contracts, photographs, invoices, and any other paperwork. You should also bring other witnesses who can testify about your case. Ensuring that you are prepared for your case goes along way to securing a successful outcome. After hearing both sides, the judge may make a decision at the hearing or notify the parties of the ruling by mail, several days later.

Can I sue in small claims court in Contra Costa County?

Usually, a claim must be filed in the County where the person or business being sued resides. There are a number of exceptions to this, like in an automobile accident which can also be filed in the County where the traffic collision happened. A plaintiff can file a case in small claims court if the plaintiff is at least eighteen years old, or an emancipated minor. If you are under 18 or not mentally competent, the judge must appoint a guardian at litem to represent you in small claims court. This person only acts on their behalf with respect to that particular small claims court case.

Small Claims Court Statute of Limitations

All cases must be filed by 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 time limit varies depending on the type of the 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 the defendant broke an oral contract, the plaintiff must file the case within two years of the breach. If there is a written contract, the plaintiff has three years to file the case from the date the defendant breached the contract. If you were the victim of fraud, you have three years from when you first learn of the fraud to file your case. It can be very difficult to find out when the statute of limitations begins to run. It is better to file your case sooner, and let the judge decide, rather than later and lose having your case heard.

What is the most a person can sue for in Contra Costa 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 party can only file two actions that are more than $2,500 in a year. A person can file as many claims asking for $2,500 or less.

Filing Fee for Small Claims Court cases in Contra Costa County

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
  • $1,500.01 to $5,000.00 – $50
  • $5,000.01 to $10,000.00 – $75

If a party has filed twelve or more small claims court actions over the last twelve months, the filing fee is $100.

Contra Costa County Small Claims Court Locations

Contra Costa County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 3 courthouses across Contra Costa County. The website address for Contra Costa County Superior Court is: Here are the following locations where small claims cases are heard:

Wakefield Taylor Courthouse

The Wakefield Taylor Courthouse is located at:

725 Court St.
Martinez, CA 94553-1233

The phone number is: 925-646-4099

Pittsburg R.E. Arnason Justice Center

The Pittsburg R.E. Arnason Justice Center is located at:

1000 Center Drive
Pittsburg, CA 94565

The phone number is: 925-646-4099

Richmond – George D. Carroll Courthouse

The Richmond – George D. Carroll Courthouse is located at:

100 37th St. #185
Pittsburg, CA 94565

The phone number is: 925-646-4099

What types of cases are filed in Contra Costa County Small Claims Court?

A wide variety 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.

What is Mediation for Small Claims Court?

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).

When will my case be heard?

Contra Costa County has its own Superior Court. 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. 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).

Can I hire an attorney?

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.

6 thoughts on “Contra Costa County Small Claims Court, California”

  1. I was in a car accident and had only liability. The mini van behind me told police & his insurance that I hit curb and then hr hit me. I felt he hit me and then I hit curb. At the very least; if I hit curb at 15 mph, I would’ve been in better condition. However, due to driver then hitting me; I have major damage to my car.

  2. Hi! My friend owes me $20,000. She promised to pay me back within 18 months. However, she broke her promise.
    Can I file two cases within two years?
    Can I e-file since I am currently in Asia?
    How long I need to wait approximately after I file?

    i really appreciate your answer.

  3. My small claims case was heard on Friday 3/16/18 and the judge said he would give us a decision by mail. How long will that take?

  4. My Father 81 years old was recently in a assistance living place named Westmont of Brentwood
    He was only there 30 days. He decided to come live with me, his daughter and caretaker. Since day one this place has been difficult with their charging practices. Meaning charging my father with things he never used. Past the amount of $1,000. When talking to them they have avoided us , until finally they did talk to me and took off one charge. Said I would get a new printout of a detail of what they charged my father. When I received that, I disagreed and NO ONE would return emails or talk to us. Then they sent us a refund check for $1,000 less than what it should be. There again no breakdown of what the refund consist of just it was a refund. Again I sent a email no response. Called and they connected me to billing, again went to voice mail. I had talk to this Carol in billing before, she said she has nothing to do with adjusting the bill. So tried of the run around. I just want what’s right. My father worked hard for his money . Day one of admitting we gave a check for $9,200 and something. They promised my Brother and I a printout of what this charge consist of. It was a spiral downhill after that. Never got it till 2 weeks later. I have the contract, emails etc. Even called their main office. No response from them either. How many other elderly people that are staying there are getting their bill padded? We did contact the state. They said they would look into it, if found guilty they fine the place, but cannot force them to pay us , that’s why I’m here. I will be that avocation for my elderly father who has Parkinson’s.


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