Santa Barbara County Small Claims Court, California

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 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 find out when the statute of limitations begins to run. It is better to file sooner, rather than later, and let the judge decide.

Limits on Santa Barbara County Small Claims Court

The most a person can sue for in small claims court is $10,000. 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 or corporation can file as many cases seeking $2,500.00 or less.

Where are Small Claims Court Cases Heard in Santa Barbara County?

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

Anacapa Building

The Anacapa Building is located at:

1100 Anacapa Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101

The phone number is: 805-882-4770

Cook Courthouse

The Cook Courthouse is located at:

312-C East Cook St.
Santa Maria, CA 93454

The phone number is: 805-882-4770

How long does it take 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). Generally, you will go to court between twenty and seventy days after the claim 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 can I prepare for my Small Claims Court Hearing?

Santa Barbara County Small Claims Court

Santa Barbara County Small Claims Court

Cases in Santa Barbara County are often scheduled with a number of other small claims court cases. Because the court’s schedule is very busy (and has become more busy based on state cuts to the court’s budget), the court may expect you to present your entire case in a few minutes. 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. 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 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 much does it cost to sue in Santa Barbara 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 party has filed twelve or less claims over the past twelve months, the 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 Mediation for Small Claims Court?

Santa Barbara 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 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).

What is Small Claims Court?

Small Claims Court is a special court whose purpose is to handle cases an efficient, inexpensive fashion. Each County in California follows the same rules and procedures for small claims court cases. 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 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.

What types of cases are filed in Santa Barbara County Small Claims Court?

Many different types of cases can be filed in small claims court. Common cases are: car accidents, damage to property, some landlord tenant disputes, and contractor disputes.

Which cases are filed in Santa Barbara 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). 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 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.

Can I hire a lawyer?

A party is not able to be represented by anyone else in small claims court, including an attorney or lawyer. However, you are able to talk to an attorney before or after the small claims court trial to answer questions and discuss strategy.

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