Small Claims Court
Small claims court is a special court within the Superior Court where disputes are resolved quickly and inexpensively.
The rules are simple and informal. The person who sues is the plaintiff. The person who is sued is the defendant. In small claims court, you may ask a lawyer for advice before you go to court, but you cannot have a lawyer in court during the hearing. You must present your case yourself.
Small Claims Information & FAQs
An individual cannot ask for more than $10,000 in a claim. Corporations and other entities (like, government entities) cannot ask for more than $5,000. You can file as many claims as you want for up to $2,500 each, but you can only file 2 claims in a calendar year that ask for more than $2,500.
You can only sue a guarantor for up to $4,000 ($2,500 if they don't charge for the guarantee). (A "guarantor" is a person who promises to be responsible for what another person owes.)
Any mentally competent person who is (a) 18 years old or older, or (b) an emancipated child.
If you are either not mentally competent, or under 18 years old and not emancipated, a judge must appoint an adult called a “guardian ad litem” to represent you in small claims court.
Please see our Forms and Filings page for information on how to obtain court forms.
The cost to file a small claims case depends on how much money you are seeking and how many cases you filed within the calendar year. Please see our Fee Schedule for the current filing fees.
The typical cases involve, but are not limited to, auto accidents, property damage, landlord/tenant disputes and the collection of personal debts.
Please see our Self-Help/Low-Cost Resources page for information on how to get assistance with your small claims case. For an extensive list of Questions and Answers, please see the Small Claims section of the California Courts Self-Help Center