Statute of Limitations in Small Claims Court Cases
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 time limit varies depending on the type of the case. If the case involves personal injury to you, the case must be filed within two years of the injury or two years of when you first learned of the injury. (A child has two years from the date of 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 you lost money because you were tricked or lied to, you have three years from when you learn of the deceit to file your case. It is often difficult to find out when it is too late to file. It is better to file your case sooner, and let the judge decide, rather than later and lose having your case heard.
Where are Small Claims Court Cases Heard in Fresno County?
In Fresno County, small claims court cases are heard in 1 courthouse across the County. The website address for Fresno County Superior Court (which will have more information for small claims court cases) is: www.fresnosuperiorcourt.org. Here are the following locations where Small Claims Court cases are heard in Fresno County:
B. F. Sisk Courthouse
The B. F. Sisk Courthouse is located at:1130 O Street Fresno, CA 93721-2220
The phone number is: 559-457-1900
What types of cases are filed in Fresno County Small Claims Court?
A wide variety of cases can be filed in small claims court. The most common types are automobile accidents, property damage, rent deposit disputes, homeowners association disputes, and contractor disputes.
Limits on Fresno 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. An individual can only file two small claims court cases for more than $2,500.00 in one year. A person or corporation can file as many cases seeking $2,500.00 or less.
What is small claims court mediation?
Fresno County Superior Court may offer mediation for your claim before the actual trial. 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 on the day of your actual court hearing, but before you see the judge. Mediation is nothing to be scared of, but rather another chance for you to explain your side of the case (which will better prepare you for the actual hearing in front of the judge).
Small Claims Court Hearing in Fresno County
Cases in Fresno County are often scheduled with a number of other small claims court cases. 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 essential to spend time preparing your case in advance. 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 hearing both sides, the judge may make a decision at the hearing or notify the parties of the ruling by mail, several days later.
Which cases are filed in Fresno County?
The general rule is the case or claim must be filed in the County where the defendant 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 party may file the claim in small claims court if that party is at least eighteen years old. A party can file as someone less than eighteen if he or she 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. The guardian ad litem acts on behalf of the person and makes decisions specifically for that case only.
Fresno County Small Claims Court Filing Fee
The filing fee is required to be paid by the plaintiff when the claim is filed with the court. The amount of the filing fee is relative to the amount the plaintiff is seeking. 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
If a party has filed twelve or more small claims court actions over the last twelve months, the filing fee is $100.
Small Claims Court in Fresno County
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 rules for small claims court cases in Fresno 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 party who files the action or claim is known as the plaintiff. The party who is being sued is known as the defendant. In California small claims court cases, neither party can hire an attorney to represent them at the hearing. Each party is allowed to consult with an attorney before the hearing to answer questions and discuss the case.
Can I have an attorney represent me?
A party is not able to be represented by anyone else in small claims court, including an attorney or lawyer. But, you are able to consult and speak with an attorney before or after the hearing to answer questions or discuss strategy.
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. Because of state cuts to the Fresno County Superior Court budget, most hearings are set well past the seventy days.