Statute of Limitations in Small Claims Court Cases
All cases must be filed before a certain deadline called the statute of limitations. 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). If the case involves an oral contract which was broken or breached, you have two years from the date of the breach to file your action. If a written contract was broken, you have three years from when the agreement was broken. If you were the victim of fraud, you have three years from when you first learn of the fraud to file your case. 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.
Fresno County Small Claims Court
Small Claims Court is a special court whose purpose is to handle cases an efficient, inexpensive fashion. Each County in California follows the same rules and procedures for small claims court cases. The rules are designed to be less complex and more less formal when compared to general civil cases. The person or business that files the action is the plaintiff. The party who is being sued is known as the defendant. In small claims court cases in California, neither party is allowed to have a lawyer represent you at the hearing. But, each party can talk to and ask questions to an attorney before or after the hearing if they wish.
Small Claims Court Mediation
Your Fresno County Small Claims Court cases may be sent to mediation before it is heard at the actual trial or hearing. Mediation is a legal term which means that each side will have a discussion with an impartial third party to try and reach an agreement for the outcome of the case. Mediation can occur before the trial or even on the same day as your trial. 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).
Filing Fee for Small Claims Court cases in Fresno 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 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.
What types of cases are filed in Fresno County Small Claims Court?
Many different types 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.
Can I sue in small claims court in Fresno 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 you are under 18 or not mentally competent, the judge must appoint a guardian at litem to represent you in small claims court. The guardian ad litem acts on behalf of the person and makes decisions specifically for that case only.
Can I hire a lawyer?
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 Locations for Fresno County
Small Claims Court cases are heard in 1 courthouse across the County. The website address for Fresno County Superior Court 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
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. The court’s schedule is busy and because of this scheduling, you will only have a few minutes to present your case. (You can pay attention to the cases that are heard before you). 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. Making sure you are prepared for the hearing goes along way toward 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.
Fresno County Small Claims Court Limits
A person cannot sue in small claims court for more than $10,000.00. A corporation (or other corporate entity) cannot sue for more than $5,000. 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.
How long does it take my case to be heard?
Fresno 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. Because of state cuts to the Fresno County Superior Court budget, most hearings are set well past the seventy days.