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Thinking of filing a small claims lawsuit in Van Nuys small claims court or in Los Angeles County small claims court?
In this article, learn about:
Van Nuys Small Claims Court fees.
How to file a small claims lawsuit in Van Nuys
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.
Where is the Van Nuys Small Claims Court?
Small claims hearings take place at Van Nuys Courthouse East Location.
Here is the address:
Van Nuys Courthouse East Location.
6230 Sylmar Ave.
Van Nuys, CA 91401
How do I contact the Van Nuys Small Claims Court Clerk?
Need to contact the Van Nuys Small Claims Court Clerk?
Here is how:
Small Claims Clerk: ((818) 901-4600
Phone Hours: Monday- Friday 7:30 am - 4:30 pm
Can I file my Small Claims Lawsuit in Van Nuys Small Claims Court?
You can always sue an individual in a Van Nuys Small Claims Court if they live in Van Nuys or in Los Angeles County.
You may be able to sue in Van Nuys small claims in other situations. For example:
If you are suing about a car accident that occurred in Van Nuys (or its surrounding areas).
If you are suing about property damage to your house that occurred in Van Nuys (or its surrounding areas).
If the defendant lived or did business within Van Nuys (or its surrounding areas) when the contract was broken.
If you have an issue with your landlord returning the security deposit and the rented unit was in Beverly Glen, Calabasas, Los Angeles, North Hollywood, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Van Nuys, Woodlands Hills, or anywhere in Van Nuys (or its surrounding areas) then you would be able to sue your landlord in Van Nuys Small Claims Court or small claims court Los Angeles. (You would also be able to sue your landlord in the small claims court in the county where they live).
If the defendant lives in the following cities/towns then you can sue in a Van Nuys Small Claims Court: Agoura, Agoura Hills, Bell Canyon, Beverly Glen, Brent Junction, Calabasas, Canoga Park, Cornell, Encino, Hidden Hills, Lakeside Park, Los Angeles, North Hills, Northridge State, Panorama City, Point Dume, Reseda, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Tarzana, Thousand Oaks, Toluca Lake, Valley Glen, Valley Nuys, Warner Center, West Hills, and West Lake Village.
What types of small claims cases can be filed?
As long as there isn't another court better suited to hear the case, then the lawsuit can be filed in small claims court. The most common types of small claims cases in small claims court Los Angeles are:
Landlord/Tenant disputes over the security deposit.
Landlord/Tenant disputes over early termination of the lease.
Disputes over loans.
Contracts (written and oral).
Disputes over auto repairs.
Disputes over remodeling or home repairs.
Damage caused to property.
Read More: How to sue a company in Los Angeles County Small Claims Court
How long do I have to File a Small Claims case in Van Nuys?
Don't 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 small claims court lawsuit.
Read Common statutes of limitations for Van Nuys Small Claims Court.
How much can I sue for in Van Nuys Small Claims?
This is also known as the "small claims court limits." In Van Nuys Small Claims court:
An individual or sole proprietor can sue for $10,000 or less.
A corporation or LLC can sue for $5,000 or less.
What are the Van Nuys Small Claims Court Filing Fees?
The amount you will pay to file a small claims lawsuit in Los Angeles County depends on how much you are suing for:
If you are suing for $1,500 or less, then your filing fee is $30.
If you are suing for more than $1,500 but less than or equal to $5,000, then your filing fee is $50.
If you are suing for more than $5,000 but less than or equal to $10,000, then your filing fee is $75.
What are other costs for Small Claims Court?
In most small claims cases, you can expect to pay:
Filing fees (see above) $30- $75
Serving Costs can range from $0-$100 (you can have a friend serve your lawsuit for free).
If you win your case, you can request that the losing party pay for "reasonable costs."
Van Nuys Small Claims Court Hearings
When will the Small Claims Hearing be?
Once a case is filed in Van Nuys Small Claims Court, the hearing will be scheduled within 30- 70 days.
You must serve the small claims lawsuit at least 15 days before the hearing if the defendant lives or resides within Van Nuys.
If the defendant resides outside of Van Nuys, you must serve them at least 20 days before the hearing.
Note: If you use "substituted service" these deadlines differ (25 days before the hearing if the defendant lives or resides within Los Angeles County and 30 days before the hearing if the defendant resides outside the county).
Make sure to file "Proof of Service" at least 5 days before the hearing.
How to prepare for a Small Claims Court Hearing?
You have filed your lawsuit and served the defendant. The next step is to start preparing for your Small Claims Court hearing.
Research the law. If you are unsure about your case, consult an attorney, or conduct your own research about the law.
Prepare your evidence. Invoices, contracts, receipts, etc. You want to have your evidence organized with titles, dates, and why that piece of evidence is important. All your evidence should be geared towards showing the judge why you are correct.
Prepare what to say. During the hearing, the judge will ask the person suing why they are suing. If you are being sued, you will be asked why you don't owe the other party money.
Get your receipts for costs ready. For example, your filing fees and any process server costs. Make sure to let the judge know that you would like to be reimbursed for costs.
Print enough copies of all your evidence. You will need at least three copies (one for you, one for the judge, one for the other side).
What happens on the hearing date?
Give yourself plenty of time.
You do not want to be late for your hearing. Give yourself plenty of time for parking and navigating the courthouse.
Once You Walk into the Courthouse...
Once you walk in, the first thing you will see is airport-like security. You will need to put your belongings through a metal detector.
Read More: The Small Claims Hearing- Los Angeles
Once you arrive at the courtroom, locate your case on the paper schedule outside the courtroom door.
Outside of each courtroom, there will be a printed list of the cases that have hearings on that day.
You want to locate your case on the schedule. If you don't see your case listed, but you have received notice that your case will be heard that day, you may want to try and speak to the sheriff or clerk in the courtroom.
Make sure to use that waiting time to organize your evidence or go to the restroom.
Once the courtroom is opened, the court clerk, sheriff, and judge will go through what to expect. You will be sitting in a room with other people who have filed small claims lawsuits. You will get to watch the cases before yours. Make sure you are in the courtroom when your case is called!
If both parties show up:
Right before the hearing, the judge will ask the parties to show each other the evidence that they have brought with them.
The Judge will ask the person who is suing why they are suing.
Then the person who is being sued will get to present their side of the story.
The hearing will last around 15 minutes.
The judge will ask the parties to show the judge the evidence they brought with them. Sometimes the judge will keep the evidence. Otherwise, you will get the evidence right back.
The judge very rarely will tell the parties their decision immediately after the hearing. Instead, the judge will tell the parties that the decision will be mailed to them (It usually takes a few weeks to two months or so).
If only the person who is suing (the plaintiff) shows up:
The person who is suing is still required to tell the judge why they should win and show enough evidence as proof.
If only the person who is being sued (the defendant) shows up:
The case gets closed (known as "dismissed without prejudice" meaning that the person who sued can still file the case again later on.)
Are attorneys allowed in small claims court?
Attorneys are not allowed to represent parties at the initial hearing. If the defendant appeals the case, then attorneys are allowed to represent the parties at the appeal hearing.
You will not be able to hire a lawyer to represent you at the initial small claims court hearing.
Small Claims Mediation
Some small claims courts offer free mediation on the date of your hearing.
What is mediation? Mediation is a meeting between both the plaintiff (the person suing) and the defendant (the person being sued) conducted by a neutral third-party (a mediator). The parties will meet with a mediator, discuss their case, and try to reach a mutually beneficial solution. Both parties must agree to mediation and it cannot be forced on them.
When will mediation occur? The court clerk, judge, or sheriff will announce if there are mediators available that day. Usually, the judge will tell the audience that if you opt for mediation, you can try to mediate the case while other hearings are being conducted. If you finish the mediation early, then you get to "skip the line" and your case is processed faster.
Chief Legal Architect & Co-Founder @ People Clerk. Camila holds a juris doctor degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.