San Benito County Small Claims Court, California

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

San Benito County has its own Superior Court. 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. 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).

How much time do I have to file my case?

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 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 minor has two years from 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 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 determine when the statute of limitations begins to run (even for veteran attorneys). It is far better to file the case and let the judge decide, rather than filing too late and having it dismissed.

What types of cases are filed in San Benito 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.

Can I hire an attorney?

For California small claims court cases, you are not able to be represented by an attorney at the actual hearing. However, you are able to talk to an attorney before or after the small claims court trial to answer questions and discuss strategy.

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 San Benito 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 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. Each party is allowed to consult with an attorney before the hearing to answer questions and discuss the case.

San Benito County Small Claims Court Limits

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 person can only file two small claims court actions for more than $2,500 in one year. A person can file as many claims asking for $2,500 or less.

What is small claims court mediation?

San Benito 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 before your trial or the very same day of the trial. 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 file my claim in San Benito 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 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 someone is under eighteen or not mentally competent, the judge can appoint a person (usually a relative) as a guardian ad litem to act on that person’s behalf throughout the case. The guardian ad litem acts on behalf of the person and makes decisions specifically for that case only.

Small Claims Court Locations for San Benito County

San Benito County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 1 courthouse across San Benito County. The website address for San Benito County Superior Court is: www.sanbenito.courts.ca.gov. Here are the following locations where Small Claims Court cases are heard in San Benito County:

Main Courthouse

The Main Courthouse is located at:

450 Fourth Street
Hollister, CA 95023-3892

The phone number is: 831-636-4057

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

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 you filed twelve or less claims over the past twelve months, the filing fee is:

  • $0 to $1,500 – $30
  • $1,500 to $5,000 – $50
  • $5,000 to $10,000 – $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 Hearing in San Benito County

San Benito County Small Claims Court

San Benito County Small Claims Court

Cases in San Benito County are often scheduled with 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. Bring any and all documents that support your case including: receipts, photos, contracts, and any other relevant documents. You should also bring other witnesses who can testify about your case. Being prepared for the hearing is half the battle. 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.

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