San Diego County Small Claims Court Limits
A person cannot sue for more than $10,000 in a case. A corporation (or other corporate entity) cannot sue for more than $5,000. An individual can only file two small claims court cases for more than $2,500.00 in one year. A person can file as many claims asking for $2,500 or less.
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.). Bring other witnesses who were present during relevant times and can provide testimony about the incident. Making sure you are prepared for the hearing goes along way toward a successful outcome. 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.
What types of cases are filed in San Diego County Small Claims Court?
Many different 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.
San Diego County Small Claims Court
Small claims court is a special court where disputes between parties are handled quickly and inexpensively. The rules for small claims court cases in San Diego County 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 or business that files the action is 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. But, each party can talk to and ask questions to an attorney before or after the hearing if they wish.
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 time limit varies depending on the type of the 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). 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 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 better to file sooner, rather than later, and let the judge decide.
Small Claims Court Locations for San Diego County
Small Claims Court cases are heard in 2 courthouses across the 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
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. But, you are able to consult and speak with an attorney before or after the hearing to answer questions or discuss strategy.
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 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
Once a party has filed twelve cases within twelve months, each consecutive case has a $100 filing fee.
What is small claims court mediation?
You may be asked to have your mediated before the 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. Mediation may work for your case, but at the very least, it will give you the chance to explain your case to someone (before you explain it to the judge).
How long does it take my case to be heard?
Each Superior Court is responsible for one County. The amount of time between when the claim is filed and heard varies between each County (and even within each County). Generally, you will go to court between twenty and seventy days after the claim is 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 file my claim in San Diego 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 you are under 18 or not mentally competent, the judge must appoint a guardian at litem to represent you in small claims court. This person only acts on their behalf with respect to that particular small claims court case.