How long do I have to wait for my case to be heard?
Each 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). Usually, the hearing for your small claims court case should be between twenty and seventy days after the case was filed. However, because of state cuts to the court’s budget, most hearings are now being set well past the seventy day mark.
Can I sue in small claims court in San Diego County?
The general rule is the case or claim must be filed in the County where the defendant resides. Exceptions to this include automobile accidents (which can be filed where the accident happened). A plaintiff can file a case in small claims court if the plaintiff is at least eighteen years old, or an emancipated minor. 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. This person only acts on their behalf with respect to that particular small claims court case.
How much does it cost to sue in San Diego 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 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
Once a party has filed twelve cases within twelve months, each consecutive case has a $100 filing fee.
Can I hire an attorney?
A party is not able to be represented by anyone else in small claims court, including an attorney or lawyer. 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.
San Diego County 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 very important to spend time preparing for your case ahead of time. This means organizing and bringing all paperwork and other documents that support your side (receipts, contracts, pictures, etc.). You should also bring other witnesses who can testify about your case. Being prepared for the hearing is half the battle. 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.
San Diego County 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 Diego are the same for any County in California. These rules are meant to be simpler than a regular civil case so that a non-lawyer can understand and represent himself or herself in court. The person who files the lawsuit or action is called the plaintiff. The Defendant is the person or business that is being sued. In California small claims court cases, neither party can hire an attorney to represent them at the hearing. However, you are able to consult and speak with an attorney before or after the small claims court hearing.
What types of cases are filed in San Diego County Small Claims Court?
All 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.
Small Claims Court Mediation
San Diego County Superior Court may offer mediation for your claim before the actual 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 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).
Small Claims Court Statute of Limitations
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 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 minor has two years from his or her eighteenth birthday). If the defendant broke an oral contract, the plaintiff must file the case within two years of the breach. 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.
San Diego County Small Claims Court Locations
San Diego County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 2 courthouses across San Diego County. The website address for San Diego County Superior Court is: www.sdcourt.ca.gov. Here are the following locations where Small Claims Court cases are heard in San Diego County:
Kearny Mesa Branch
The Kearny Mesa Branch is located at:8950 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. San Diego, CA 92123
The phone number is: 858-634-1919
Vista Regional Center
The Vista Regional Center is located at:325 S. Melrose Dr. Vista, CA 92081
The phone number is: 858-634-1919
San Diego County Small Claims Court Limits
The most a person can sue for in small claims court is $10,000. A business can only sue for $5,000 or less in small claims court. A person can only file two small claims court actions for more than $2,500 in one year. A person or corporation can file as many cases seeking $2,500.00 or less.