Merced County Small Claims Court, California

What is the most a person can sue for in Merced County Small Claims Court?

A person cannot sue in small claims court for more than $10,000.00. A business can only sue for $5,000 or less in small claims court. An individual can only file two small claims court cases for more than $2,500.00 in one year. A party can file as many cases in small claims court with an amount of $2,500 or less.

Merced County Small Claims Court Locations

Merced County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 2 courthouses across Merced County. The website address for Merced County Superior Court is: www.mercedcourt.org. Here are the following locations where Small Claims Court cases are heard in Merced County:

Main Courthouse

The Main Courthouse is located at:

2260 N Street
Merced, CA 95340-3744

The phone number is: 209-725-4100

Old Courthouse

The Old Courthouse is located at:

627 W. 21st Street
Merced, CA 95340

The phone number is: 209-725-4100

How can I prepare for my Small Claims Court Hearing?

Merced County Small Claims Court

Merced County Small Claims Court

Your case will probably be on the same calendar and heard at the same time as a number of other small claims court cases. Often, the court’s schedule is very busy, and the court will expect you to present your argument in just a few minutes. (It is usually smart to pay attention to the cases heard before yours to see which issues and questions the judge asks the parties). 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. Make sure you bring any witnesses you need to the hearing if they are necessary to prove your case. 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.

How long do I have to wait for my case to be heard?

Each Superior Court is responsible for one County. The length of time between when the case is filed and when the hearing is varies for each county in California (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.

Types of Merced County Small Claims Court Cases

All 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.

Can I file my claim in Merced 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 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. This person only acts on their behalf with respect to that particular small claims court case.

How much does it cost to sue in Merced County Small Claims Court?

The plaintiff must pay a filing fee when the claim is filed. If you filed twelve or less claims over the past twelve months, the filing fee is:

  • $0 to $1,500 – $30
  • $1,500.01 to $5,000.00 – $50
  • $5,000.01 to $10,000.00 – $75

If you filed twelve or more small claims court actions in the last twelve months, the filing fee is a constant $100.00.

Small Claims Court Mediation

Merced County Superior Court may offer mediation for your claim before the actual 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. It is nothing to be scared of, just your chance to explain your side of the case to the mediator about what happened.

Can I hire a lawyer?

No. A party cannot be represented by anyone else (including an attorney). But, you are able to consult and speak with an attorney before or after the hearing to answer questions or discuss strategy.

Small Claims Court Statute of Limitations

All cases must be filed by a certain deadline called the statute of limitations. Statute of limitations is a legal term for the deadline to file a case. The statute of limitations is different depending on the type of 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 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 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.

Merced County Small Claims Court

Small claims court is a special court where disputes between parties are handled quickly and inexpensively. The procedures and rules of evidence for small claims court cases in Merced 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 person who files the lawsuit or action is called the plaintiff. The person or persons who is being sued is called the defendant. In California small claims court cases, neither party can hire an attorney to represent them at the hearing. But, each party can talk to and ask questions to an attorney before or after the hearing if they wish.

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