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Suing Out-of-State Person or Business

by | Feb 24, 2023 | Plaintiff, Small Claims Process | 0 comments

Are you thinking of taking legal action against a company or person based outside the state you are in?

Out-of-State Company

Let’s say you are in California, for example. While jurisdictional issues could prevent this from occurring, there are certain conditions where it is possible for a court in California to consider your case.

Firstly, use the Secretary of State’s Companies Search tool to see if an entity has registered or incorporated within our state since only then can they be subject to liability here.

Secondly, even companies that don’t maintain offices nor operate out of The Golden State may still be held accountable legally depending on circumstances such as:

  • You were injured by the business in California.
  • Your property (located in California) was damaged by the business.
  • The contract dispute in question was negotiated in California.
  • The contract dispute in question would be performed in California.
  • The business has an office, warehouse, retail establishment, or any physical facility in California, even if the headquarters is in another state.
  • The business does regular business in California by selling products and/or services. The business has a sales rep who solicits you personally or by phone.
  • The business advertises by sending a catalog to solicit your business, or advertises in California newspapers, magazines, or other media.

Staying within California’s borders is key, as serving court papers to a business must occur in the state for your case to be considered valid. If this requirement cannot be met, then you may need take action outside of California and file your case in either the state where it was incorporated or established.

Out-of-State Person

Do you live in California but the person you need to sue lives elsewhere? If so, don’t worry! You can still take legal action with a few important caveats. Any parties filing cases must reside or be present within California – this includes both plaintiff and defendant – unless:

  • You had a vehicle accident with a non-resident person while on a California road.
  • The owner of the vehicle may also be sued in California if their car was being driven in California.
  • The non-resident owns the property in dispute (could be an apartment or other rental housing), and the property is located in California.
  • It is important to note that even if one of these conditions applies, you must be able to serve the court papers after filing the case to the other person while they are physically within California borders for the case to be valid.

If none of these conditions apply, then you may have to file your case in the state where the other person lives!



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:


  1. Understand the legal process;
  2. Evaluate the pros and cons that come with taking someone to court;
  3. Generate small claims court forms; and,
  4. Avoid common mistakes when filing your forms and serving notice on the other side.
*Currently, JusticeDirect can only help litigants sue in California’s small claims court.

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