Where are Small Claims Court Cases Heard in San Mateo County?
San Mateo County Small Claims Court cases are heard in 1 courthouse across San Mateo County. The website address for San Mateo County Superior Court is: www.sanmateocourt.org. Here are the locations:
Hall of Justice
The Hall of Justice is located at:400 County Center Redwood City, CA 94063-1655
The phone number is: 650-363-4303
Which cases are filed in San Mateo County?
Usually, a claim must be filed in the County where the person or business being sued resides. There are some exceptions to this rule (for example, an auto accident can be filed in the County where the accident occurred). 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. A guardian ad litem is an adult appointed by the court to represent that person only for that case.
What types of cases are filed in San Mateo County Small Claims Court?
Many different 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.
Limits on San Mateo County Small Claims Court
A person cannot sue in small claims court for more than $10,000.00. A corporation (or other corporate entity) cannot sue for more than $5,000. A party can only file two actions that are more than $2,500 in a year. A person can file as many claims asking for $2,500 or less.
How long does it take my case to be heard?
Each County has its own Superior Court. Time between when the case is filed to when the case is heard vary amongst each County (and even within the same 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.
San Mateo County Small Claims Court Hearing
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). 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 essential to spend time preparing your case in advance. 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 hearing both sides, the judge may make a decision at the hearing or notify the parties of the ruling by mail, several days later.
Small Claims Court Mediation
Your San Mateo County Small Claims Court cases may be sent to mediation before it is heard at the actual trial or hearing. Mediation is a procedure where each side discusses the case with a third party (called the mediator), and the mediator tries to reach an agreement that both sides agree to. 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).
What is 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 Mateo 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 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. Each party is allowed to consult with an attorney before the hearing to answer questions and discuss the case.
Filing Fee for Small Claims Court cases in San Mateo County
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
- $1,500.01 to $5,000.00 – $50
- $5,000.01 to $10,000.00 – $75
Once a party has filed twelve cases within twelve months, each consecutive case has a $100 filing fee.
Statute of Limitations in Small Claims Court Cases
All claims must be filed before the statute of limitations has run. 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 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 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 can be very difficult to find out when the statute of limitations begins to run. It is far better to file the case and let the judge decide, rather than filing too late and having it dismissed.
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.