• The People Clerk Team

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.

Ready for People Clerk to be your small claims assistant?

or click here to get started.

Most small claims cases take 2-3 months from start to finish. The typical small claims court case takes three steps:

  1. File the Lawsuit,

  2. Serve the lawsuit,

  3. Attend the Hearing.

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.

  • Roommate disputes.

  • Disputes over loans.

  • Contracts (written and verbal).

  • Auto accidents.

  • Disputes over auto repairs.

  • Disputes over remodeling or home repairs (disputes with contractors).

  • Damage caused to property.

  • Unpaid bills.

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.

  • Read Common statutes of limitations for California Small Claims Court.

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:

or click here to learn more about pricing.

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).

Let People Clerk help you with your small claims lawsuit.

or click here to get started.

Check out our other articles:

How to File Your California Small Claims Court Case

Quick List of Forms for California Small Claims Court

What to do if Landlord improperly withholds your Security Deposit

Small Claims Courts by County:

San Francisco Small Claims

Los Angeles Small Claims

Monterey Small Claims

Mercedes County Small Claims

Riverside Small Claims

Orange County Small Claims

We have your back

with California Small Claims Disputes.


  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon

Courtam, Inc dba People Clerk is not an attorney or a law firm, therefore, People Clerk does not provide legal advice. People Clerk uses technology to reduce the costs of pursuing a small claims dispute. People Clerk can only provide self-help services at your direction. 

People Clerk is not affiliated or endorsed by the California Judicial Branch or any government agency. Blank small claims court forms are available for free on the California Courts website


People Clerk does not sell your information to third parties. 

People Clerk is registered in San Mateo County, California as a bonded legal document assistant (2020-1). We can be reached at (650) 385-8507.

© 2020 by Courtam, Inc.