Small Claims Court San Diego: Legal Procedures for Filing

Small Claims Court San Diego

You could choose to file a small claims court case in San Diego to resolve the disagreement without having to pay high legal fees. A branch of the California Superior Court called Small Claims Court deals with civil cases involving parties and businesses that have damages of $10,000 or less. The procedures for filing small claims in the San Diego Court ca, California Small Claims Court, will be elucidated in this blog article.

What Is A Small Claim Case?

A lawsuit filed in a local court of law is known as a small claims case. Conflicts may arise over unpaid bills, bodily harm, or property damage. Small claims cases are distinct from other kinds of litigation because of their reduced filing costs, streamlined processes, and caps on the total amount of money the court may grant at trial.

What Is the Procedure for the San Diego Small Claims Court?

Citizens who are unable to settle their differences amicably through other channels bring their problems before the small claims court. Parties may not be represented at the hearing by attorneys. Jury trials are not practiced. Rather, it is a streamlined procedure in which the plaintiff and defendant present their respective positions before receiving the judge’s ruling and heading home.

Before the Small Claims Court

Were you aware that small claims court is your last resort? It is possible to submit a letter requesting payment before making a claim. Before bringing a case in small claims court, you must formally demand payment in some states, such as California. Demand letters frequently help people settle conflicts out of court and save money by avoiding the time and costs involved. If you haven’t tried this before, learn more about how to draft a strong demand letter and the best way to deliver it to the debtor.


To submit a claim, you often need to fill out SC-100, which details the disagreement and the requested damages. After reviewing the filed complaint documentation, the court clerk designates a judge to handle it.

Serving the Defendant

You need to provide a copy of your complaint to the defendant as soon as it is filed. Serving the defendant notifies them that you have filed a case against them, and as a result, they are required to appear at the hearing and provide a response.

Depending on the alternatives your court allows, you may have several options when serving the defendant. Certain alternatives can charge a cost, but the opposite party will reimburse it if you win the lawsuit.

You might be able to serve through:

  • An expert process server
  • certified mail
  • The marshal/sheriff
  • If the court permits it, you may also have a friend or relative serve the complaint. Most crucially, if you are a party to the lawsuit, you are not allowed to handle it yourself.

The Defendant’s Reply

After that, the defendant has 20 days to provide the court with a response. A hearing date will be scheduled by the court following the defendant’s submission of an answer. Both parties may call witnesses and submit evidence during the hearing. Based on the information provided at the hearing, the judge will next make a decision.

  • If the parties are unable to agree, the court will render a judgment. After the lawsuit is lost, the losing party has 30 days to appeal the ruling.
  • The Hearing in Court
  • The court will set a hearing for the matter following the filing of the complaint. Usually, it takes a few weeks to several months, starting from the filing date.
  • Each party may make their argument and provide any supporting documentation for it. After hearing arguments from both parties, the judge will make a decision based on the evidence and the law.
  • Enforcing the verdict

The court will formally announce that the defendant now owes you money if the judge finds in your favor and awards a judgment that the defendant must pay. You won’t receive direct payment from the court. You may “collect” on the judgment if the defendant refuses to pay it willingly. This may involve taking possession of the defendant’s assets or having their earnings garnished.

What happens in San Diego Small Claims Court if you don’t show up?

The court has a few choices if the plaintiff fails to show up for the hearing or fails to inform the court of their absence. The magistrate could:

  • Rescheduled the case
  • With prejudice, dismiss the lawsuit.
  • Neglect the case without further action.
  • If the defendant shows up, the judge may rule against you after taking into account their evidence.

How to File a San Diego Small Claims Lawsuit

  • Utilizing the plaintiff’s claim and order to proceed to a small claims court, draft the case.
  • Send the lawsuit to the relevant court.
  • Inform the individual or company you have filed a lawsuit against about it. We refer to this as a service. Proof of service must be prepared by the person doing the serving.
  • Send the court proof of service.
  • Before the hearing, submit your proof to the opposite party and the court.
  • Notify the other party and the court that you wish to attend the hearing in person or virtually by submitting a notice.


What is the cost of filing a lawsuit in California’s small claims court?

Depending on the amount of the claim, there are three different filing fees for small claims court: $30 for claims under $1,500, $50 for claims over $1,500 but less than or equal to $5,000, and $75 for claims above $5,000.

Does California’s small claims court require a lawyer?

In small claims court, the maximum amount you can typically sue for is $10,000 (or $5,000 if you’re a business). You may seek legal advice before appearing in court, but you have no right to have a lawyer attend you.

What happens in a California small claims court if the defendant fails to appear?

The main concern if the defendant is not present is whether or not they were properly notified of the hearing. Even if the defendant is not present, the court will analyze the facts presented by the plaintiff and make a decision based on the Proof of Service (Small Claims) (Form SC-104), which certifies that the correct service of process was carried out.

How does San Diego’s small claims court operate?

Small Claims Court is a unique forum where people can settle legal issues informally, swiftly, and affordably while representing themselves. Both the defendant and the plaintiff are parties to the lawsuit.


You must use the defendant’s full legal name when designating them. If the defendant is a corporation, get the precise name and agent designated to accept the process on the corporation’s behalf from the California Secretary of State. Check the county’s fictitious business name declaration or the city business license for various kinds of businesses. You might not be able to enforce the decision if you do not specify the defendant’s full legal name.

Before bringing a formal claim in court, you must first make a formal claim with the relevant governmental agency, should your claim be rejected. You typically have six months from the date of the incident or disagreement to notify the agency of your grievance.

Related Articles:

Can I sue an insurance company?

What Happens If One Skips Jury Duty?

Can Someone Else Accept Served Papers?

When and How to Get a Retaliation Lawyer


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