How Long Does The Small Claims Court Process Take?
Thinking about suing in Small Claims Court but want to know how long it is going to take to resolve the lawsuit?
In this article, learn about:
How long it takes a Small Claims Court Case
Small Claims Court Limits
How much is going to small claims costs?
Common types of small claims lawsuits
What to expect during a small claims hearing.
Fun fact, lawyers are not allowed at the initial small claims hearing! This is to even the playing field so that each party has an equal chance of obtaining justice.
Most small claims cases take 2-3 months from start to finish. The typical small claims court case takes three steps:
Small Claims Court in General
In California, small claims courts were set up as a quick and efficient forum to resolve disputes.
What types of small claims cases can be filed?
As long as there isn't another court better suited to file the lawsuit, then the lawsuit can be filed in small claims. The most common types of small claims lawsuits in California Small Claims Court are:
Landlord/Tenant disputes over the security deposit.
Landlord/Tenant disputes over unpaid rent.
Disputes over loans.
Contracts (written and verbal).
Disputes over auto repairs.
Disputes over remodeling or home repairs (disputes with contractors).
Damage caused to property.
How long do I have to File a Small Claims case?
Do not wait to file your small claims court lawsuit! After an incident occurs, you only have a set period of time to file your lawsuit. Think of this as a deadline (called the statute of limitations). Once the deadline is reached, you cannot file your California Small Claims Court lawsuit.
How much can I sue for in California Small Claims Court?
This is also known as the "small claims court limits." In California Small Claims you can sue for the following maximum amounts:
What are the California Small Claims Court Filing Fees?
The amount you will pay to file a small claims lawsuit in California depends on how much you are suing for. You will pay between $30 to $75 to file the lawsuit. If cannot afford to pay court fees, you can ask the court to waive the fees.
What are other costs for Small Claims Court?
In most small claims cases, you can expect to pay:
If you win, you can request that the losing party pay for your court fees and serving costs.
Use our interactive cost calculator to learn more:
Once you file your case
Once you file your case, you will get a hearing date scheduled anywhere between 20-70 days later. During this time you want to notify the person you have sued that they have been sued. This is called "serving."
During this time, you can try and negotiate with the other party to settle your case! You may have a higher chance of reaching a settlement once the case has been filed.
The Small Claims Court Hearing
During the small claims court hearing, a judge may tell the parties who won and who lost. Other times, a judge chooses to review the evidence after the hearing and notify the parties later on of who won and who lost. When a judge chooses to wait until after the hearing, the judge's decision will be mailed a few weeks later.
Collecting your winnings after the hearing
Once you win your California Small Claims Court case, the losing party usually pays within 30 days of when the judge's decision was mailed. This is called a judgment.
Once you receive payment, you are required to file Acknowledgment of Satisfaction of Judgment (Form SC-290).
Check out our other articles:
Small Claims Courts by County:
Los Angeles Small Claims
Riverside Small Claims