Small claims is now BIG CLAIMS in California with lawsuits up to $10,000 possible. With this much money on the line, you cannot afford NOT to hire legal counsel to review your evidence, hone in on your legal theories and practice your presentation.
Many people in California are now taking claims that they would normally be filing a civil lawsuit on (whether a state or federal court lawsuit) and taking their $5,000-$50,000 claims to a small claims court. Why would they do this if you can only collect $10,000 max? There are several reasons:
Attorney Steve’s Top Five Reasons to Take Em to Small Claims Court!
1. Small claims court is faster (your case will be heard quicker, not years down the line like many civil court cases)
2. Small claims court in California is much cheaper and less expensive than paying a California litigation law firm thousands upon thousands of dollars to litigate your case, often over the span of many months, even years.
3. Small claims court is less technical. While the civil rules apply, you will generally find the civil small claims process much more informal and easier to present your case. Keeping in mind that you will get less time to present your case so you will need to make sure you are extremely organized and efficient when your day in court coms.
4. You have a chance to get a judgement quicker, and to try to enforce it before a Defendant has lost all their money and assets (i.e. in an economy like ours, I wouldn’t bank on anyone being better off three years from now when a normal litigation would end, and would rather get a judgment NOW and get what I can NOW).
5. You get to represent yourself in Court. For you people that have thought about going to law school, or for those of you who LOVE A GOD CHALLENGE, going to small claims court can be a very joyful, rewarding and competitive experience.
These are my top five main reasons. There are others. The bottom line is small claims courts can provide a Plaintiff or Defendant with a quicker chance at justice. You can quickly file a claim, and in most cases your case will be heard in a matter of months (not a matter of years as sometimes can be the case when you file a state or federal lawsuit). Sure, you can potentially make more money by filing in a federal district court, or in a California Superior Court, but going “in pro per” in those courts are never as easy as it sounds to most people. While the superior court or district court judges might give you SOME leeway, you will generally still be expected to know and follow the California Rules of Court, Civil Rules of Civil Procedures, and the substantive law in your case, as well as any “local rules” that might apply to your case. So things can get complicated. In a small claims court, some of these issues might arise, but in my experience they are far less likely to occur and the judge in a small claims case just wants to get to the heart of the matter, quickly and decide who is entitled to justice, whether it is the Plaintiff or Defendant.
Types of things a small claims lawyer can help you with
Having a small claims legal advisor on your side mean the difference between winning and losing. Watch our video on tips to win your small claims case. You will see some of the key factors you should be aware of. Things we can help you on include:
1. Preparing your small claims case for filing
2. Tips on how to properly serve the Defendants in your case
3. Putting together and evidence booklet
4. Tips on exhibits that you might be able to create that will help the judge decide in your favor
5. Practicing your legal arguments (you can role play with a civil litigation attorney who has battled many state and federal court cases so that you will be ready for the tough questions – yes, you will get the tough questions.
These are the main things we can help you on. Where there are question on what the law is, or how the law applies to your facts, we can help you on this as well. The main point is, we prepare you for success in your small claims legal case at our low hourly ZipCounsel rate of $125 per hour (minimum 3 hours required – $375 advance retainer).
Types of cases we can advise you on
1. Business (ex partnership disputes, breach of contract, fraud, etc.)
2. Real Estate (commission disputes, brokerage disputes, non-disclosure cases, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, landlord-tenant issues, security deposits)
3. Internet law (sale of website and domain name disputes, technology startup disputes)
4. Intellectual property (copyright, trademark, trade dress, rights of publicity, etc.)
8. Attorney malpractice disputes
These are the main categories of cases. Basically we can help in most types of civil litigation areas with the exception of divorce, criminal law, and bankruptcy. It is important to have a law firm guide you through the process of filing and arguing a small claims case. When there is $10,000 on the line, investing less than a fraction of that to make sure you have all your bases covered is an important thing. If you are a defendant and lose in a small claims case, you will also want a firm understanding of your legal appeal rights. Yes, sometimes judges get it wrong, and you may have the right to seek a civil appeal of the judges decision. Short timeframes for filing a notice of appeal can apply so don’t delay.
California Small Claims Court Resources
2. California civil jury instructions (get to know the law that will apply to your case. As a Plaintiff in a small claims case you will have the BURDEN OF PROOF to meet all the elements necessary to prove your claim.
Contact a California small claims legal advisor
To get a legal litigation coach on your “dream team” contact us at (877) 276-5084. While we cannot represent you in a small claims court, we can help you prepare to win your case. You can also fill out the contact form below to have one our our civil lawyers contact you. We look forward to working with you.
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