At some point in time, you may have a case that is not worth retaining an attorney. For example, maybe someone owes you $500 or $1,500 or even $3,500. Paying an attorney to try to collect this money usually does not make sense.
The same thing applies to personal injury cases or property damage. Maybe the damage to your car is $2,500 and the other person’s insurance company does not want to pay you. Maybe you only have one doctor visit or two doctor visits and $500 in medical bills. Then, you might want to consider small claims court.
Here are a few tips for small claims court:
- Make sure you read the rules. A good place to start is the California Court website.
- Read the rules for your local county. For example, in Sacramento County, you file the small claims court lawsuit online.
- Use a registered process server to serve the lawsuit. Do you have to? No. But, it will make it easier on you if the other person does not show up. The extra $30 or $40 is worth it.
- Bring two sets of copies of your documents, including estimates, pictures, and other papers that support your case. You will have to show one set to the other party and the judge will keep one set. Never bring originals.
- Talk to the judge. Do not argue with the other side. This is not Judge Judy. Talk in a slow, calm voice to the judge and explain your position.
- Do not interrupt. This goes for the judge and for the other party. Let them speak. You will be given a chance to respond.
- Remember, if you win, the court does not collect the judgment for you. You have to do this yourself. At that point, you may need to talk to an attorney about how to collect.
Good luck if you choose small claims court. It can be a very worthwhile experience.