Small Claims court is a special civil court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively. The rules are simple and informal. You may ask a lawyer for advice before you go to court, but a lawyer is not allowed to represent you in court.
Generally claims are limited to $5,000. However, an individual may claim up to $10,000. Corporations, partnerships, governmental entities, and other legal entities cannot claim more than $5,000. You can file as many claims as you want for up to $2,500 each in a year. But you can only file two claims a year that demand more than $2,500.
There are a few exceptions to the $10,000 limit for individuals:
- Also, as a natural person, you can only sue a guarantor for up to $6,500 ($2,500 if they do not charge for the guarantee). A "guarantor" is a person or company that promises to be responsible for what another person owes. (If you are an entity other than a natural person and the guarantor charges for its services, you may file a claim for up to $4,000.)
- But, you can sue the Registrar of the Contractors (the executive officer of the Contractors State License Board) as a guarantor for up to $10,000.
Collections agencies cannot sue in small claims court to collect on debts that are assigned to them.
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A Small Claims Advisor is available to give assistance to anyone who is involved in a Small Claims case or who may become involved in a Small Claims case. The Small Claims Advisor can also help with Small Claims appeals as well as “post judgment” matters such as collection of money by writs and liens.
- Small Claims Advisor Program - A Guide for Self Represented Litigants
- Email the Small Claims Advisor
- Contact the Small Claims Advisor by Telephone:
951.274.4499 - Riverside
760.393.2163 - Desert Region
- Information on How to Get Ready for Small Claims Court
- How to Prepare for a Small Claims Trial - English flyer / Spanish flyer
- Information on How to Collect Your Judgment
- Watch a Video on Resolving Your Small Claims Case