A small claims court aims to provide a cost-effective and efficient solution for handling cases. These hearings occur in an informal setting without the presence of lawyers, although you can consult your attorney beforehand. Santa Clara County has two court houses, Palo Alto and Morgan Hill, where small claims cases are heard. In these situations, the plaintiff brings forth the lawsuit while the defendant is the individual being sued.
Both the plaintiff and the defendant in small claims court can present their viewpoint, supported by evidence or witnesses. The plaintiff starts the procedure, followed by the defendant. During this process, the defendant can question the plaintiff’s witnesses before presenting their own argument. Similarly, the plaintiff is allowed to cross-examine the defendant’s witness. Usually, at the conclusion of the trial, a judgment is made by the judge. It should be noted that in small claims court, individuals are only permitted to file a claim of $10,000 or lower.
Small businesses have the opportunity to file a claim in small claims court, even if they are corporations, as long as the claim is below $5,000. Individuals in this state are limited to two small claims court actions per calendar year for amounts over $2,500. However, there is no restriction on the number of claims if they are below $2,500. Each county provides advisors who can assist with any questions or concerns regarding small claims. The filing fee for claims under $1,500 is $30 per claim and increases to $50 per claim for claims ranging from $1,500 to $5,000.
If the claim price is more than $5,000, the cost per claim will be $75. To start a small claim, you need to fill out an SC100 form (where SC stands for small claims) and give it to the court clerk at your chosen filing location. Once you have submitted the documents to the clerk, serving the defendant in your case becomes the next step. Both you and any witnesses involved are not allowed to personally handle paper service. The paperwork process ends when the papers are successfully served.