How Small Claims Court Works | Humboldt County, California
If you are looking for a way to settle a dispute without paying expensive attorney fees, you may want to consider filing a small claims court case in Humboldt County. Small Claims Court is a division of the California Superior Court that handles civil disputes between individuals and businesses with damages of $10,000 or less. In this blog post, we will provide an overview of how Small Claims Court works in Humboldt County, CA.
What is a Small Claims Court?
A small claims court is a court system where parties can resolve disputes over a small amount of money without having to hire an attorney. Cases are heard by a judge, and the filing process is much simpler than in other courts. Small claims courts are designed to provide justice quickly and fairly, so it is important to understand how it works before filing your claim.
How Does Small Claims Court Work?
In Humboldt County, small claims court cases are handled by the Superior Court of California. Cases are heard in one of several locations throughout Humboldt County and each court has its own procedures and rules.
Before Small Claims Court
Did you know you can take steps before going to court to get your money back? Before filing a claim, you can send a letter demanding payment. A well-written demand letter may encourage the other side to come to do what you ask and avoid the time and fees associated with being taken to court. If you have not tried this option yet, read more about how to write an effective demand letter and how best to send it to the person who owes you money. Alternatively, you can use tools such as JusticeDirect to generate and send a custom demand letter for free and leave the headache out of it!
Filing Your Case
If you did not get what you wanted from the demand letter, consider filing a small claims court case. To file a claim, you must first complete SC-100 to describe the dispute and the damages sought. This paperwork is filed with the court clerk, who will then review the complaint and assign it to a judge.
Alternatively, you can use tools such as JusticeDirect to generate your California Small Claims forms and to guide you step-by-step on how to file and serve your case!
|Claim Amount||Filing Fee|
|$0 – $1500||$30|
|$5,000.01- $10,000 *||$75|
|Frequent Filer **||$100|
Serving the Defendant
Once you have filed your claim, you will need to serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint. You have different options when serving the defendant, and it may differ depending on what is allowable by your county court. You may be able to serve through:
A professional process service
Having the county’s sheriff do it
The Court Hearing
Enforcing the Judgement
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do you have to take someone to Small Claims Court?
In California, cases must be filed within a certain amount of time called a statute of limitation. In each case, you must calculate the time limit from the date the contract was broken or the date the damage/injury/fraud occurred.
- Written Agreements – 4 Years
- Oral Contracts – 2 Years
- Personal Injury – 2 Years
- Property Damage – 3 Years
- Fraud – 3 Years
What happens if you don't show up for small claims court?
If the plaintiff doesn’t appear at the hearing and doesn’t notify the court of the reason for the absence, the court has several options. The judge may:
Reschedule the case
Dismiss the case with prejudice
Dismiss the case without prejudice
If the defendant appears, the judge may enter a judgment against you after considering the defendant’s evidence.
To learn more about how to request for dismissal after filing your claim in California read here. If the defendant doesn’t appear at the hearing but the plaintiff does, then it’s very likely a default judgment will be entered against the defendant after the plaintiff presents their case. A defendant with a valid reason for missing the hearing may file to vacate the default judgment and have the case heard again. This can be done by filing SC-135.
How much money can you ask for in the Small Claims?
Individuals or businesses represented by an individual: $10,000
NEED HELP WITH YOUR JUSTICE JOURNEY?
The quest for justice is never easy, particularly when it comes to getting your money back. However, thanks to advances in technology, it has become easier. Quest for Justice’s first app, JusticeDirect, is the only app of its kind designed to support people without lawyers to resolve their disputes and get their money back, both in and out of court. The first step to getting money back is through a letter demanding payment from the other party JusticeDirect offers customizable demand letters for free. If the letter demanding payment does not work, then the next step is taking them to court. JusticeDirect* will guide users every step of the way through the small claims court process by helping them:
Understand the legal process;
Evaluate the pros and cons that come with taking someone to court;
Generate small claims court forms; and,
Avoid common mistakes when filing your forms and serving notice on the other side.
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