Tulare County Small Claims Court, California

Small Claims Court Mediation

Your Tulare County Small Claims Court cases may be sent to mediation before it is heard at the actual trial or hearing. 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. It is nothing to be scared of, just your chance to explain your side of the case to the mediator about what happened.

Statute of Limitations in Small Claims Court Cases

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 statute of limitations is different depending on the type of 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 the contract was written, you have three years from the date the contract was breached or broken to file the case. If the defendant committed fraud, the plaintiff has three years from when the plaintiff first learned of the fraud. 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.

Where are Small Claims Court Cases Heard in Tulare County?

In Tulare County, small claims court cases are heard in 2 courthouses across the County. The website address for Tulare County Superior Court (which will have more information for small claims court cases) is: www.tularesuperiorcourt.ca.gov. Here are the following locations where Small Claims Court cases are heard in Tulare County:

Visalia Division

The Visalia Division is located at:

221 S. Mooney Blvd. #124
Visalia, CA 93291

The phone number is: 559-730-5000

South County Justice Center

The South County Justice Center is located at:

300 East Olive
Porterville, CA 93257

The phone number is: 559-730-5000

How long does it take my case to be heard?

Each Superior Court is responsible for one County. Time between when the case is filed to when the case is heard vary amongst each County (and even within the same County). Generally, the small claims court trial should be between twenty and seventy days after the case is filed. However, because of state cuts to the court’s budget, most hearings are now being set well past the seventy day mark.

Small Claims Court Hearing in Tulare County

Tulare County Small Claims Court

Tulare County Small Claims Court

Your case will probably be on the same calendar and heard at the same time as 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 essential to spend time preparing your case in advance. Bring any and all documents that support your case including: receipts, photos, contracts, and any other relevant documents. Bring other witnesses who were present during relevant times and can provide testimony about the incident. 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.

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

The plaintiff must pay a filing fee when the claim is filed. 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

If you filed twelve or more small claims court actions in the last twelve months, the filing fee is a constant $100.00.

What is the most a person can sue for in Tulare 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. An individual can only file two small claims court cases for more than $2,500.00 in one year. A party can file as many cases in small claims court with an amount of $2,500 or less.

Types of Tulare County Small Claims Court Cases

All 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.

Can I file my claim in Tulare County?

The general rule is the case or claim must be filed in the County where the defendant resides. There are some exceptions to this rule (for example, an auto accident can be filed in the County where the accident occurred). 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 a plaintiff is under eighteen or mentally incompetent, a judge will appoint someone (normally a relative) as a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is an adult appointed by the court to represent that person only for that case.

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.

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 Tulare County are the same for any county in California. The rules are designed to be less complex and more less formal when compared to general civil cases. 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. For small claims court cases in California, neither the plaintiff or the defendant is allowed to 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.

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