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What is small claims court, and how does small claims court work?
Small claims court doesn’t mean the amount of money you can win is small. You can win up to $10,000 in California.
You’ll still get to go to court and explain your case. To win, you’ll have to prove that what you’re saying happened is more likely than the other side’s explanation and prove that your explanation likely happened. If it’s a tie, then the person you’re suing will win.
You don’t have to pay a lot of money to file. The cost to file in small claims court is between $30 and $75. There can be other costs involved, but the total cost of going to small claims court should be less than $150.
Why is it so cheap compared to regular court? Small claims court doesn’t have a different set of laws. It’s affordable because there are no lawyers involved.
However, it’s still best to try and make a deal out of court. Sometimes you can get everything you ask for by sending a formal letter (a demand letter.) If that doesn’t work, you should consider all your options.
Once you’ve determined you’ll need to go to small claims court, there are three distinct steps:
- File in the right courthouse. If you get it wrong, the judge may throw out your case.
- Serve the other person. Let the person or people you’re suing know that they’re being sued by getting them ‘served.’ You cannot do this yourself. You’ll need to hire a professional or get a friend to help.
- Go to court and explain your case. Be polite and respectful. Focus on the evidence and what it proves.