What is the most a person can sue for in Humboldt 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 or corporation can file as many cases seeking $2,500.00 or less.
What types of cases are filed in Humboldt 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 Small Claims Court?
Small Claims Court is a special court whose purpose is to handle cases an efficient, inexpensive fashion. The procedures and rules of evidence for small claims court cases in Humboldt are the same for any County in California. The rules are designed to be less complex and more less formal when compared to general civil cases. The party who files the action or claim is known as the plaintiff. The person or persons who is being sued is called the defendant. 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.
Can I sue in small claims court in Humboldt 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 a plaintiff is under eighteen or mentally incompetent, a judge will appoint someone (normally a relative) as a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is an adult appointed by the court to represent that person only for that case.
Humboldt County Small Claims Court Locations
Humboldt County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 2 courthouses across Humboldt County. The website for Humboldt County Superior court is: www.humboldt.courts.ca.gov. Here are the locations:
Humboldt County Courthouse
The Humboldt County Courthouse is located at:825 5th St. Eureka, CA 95501-1153
The phone number is: 707-445-7256
Garberville Branch Office
The Garberville Branch Office is located at:
The phone number is: 707-445-7256
How long do I have to wait for 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, you will go to court between twenty and seventy days after the claim 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).
Humboldt 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 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.
Small Claims Court Hearing in Humboldt County
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). 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. 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. Being prepared for the hearing is half the battle. 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).
Can I hire a lawyer?
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.
Statute of Limitations in Small Claims Court Cases
All cases must be filed before a certain deadline called the statute of limitations. Statute of limitations is a legal term for the deadline to file a case. 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 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 there is a written contract, the plaintiff has three years to file the case from the date the defendant breached the contract. 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 can be very difficult to find out when the statute of limitations begins to run. It is better to file sooner, rather than later, and let the judge decide.
Small Claims Court Mediation
You may be asked to have your mediated before the trial. 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 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).