The Small Claims Court is a special court where you can resolve disputes quickly and
inexpensively. The rules are simple. The hearing is informal. You are not allowed to have a
lawyer with you in court.
As an individual, you can use Small Claims Court if your claim is for $10,000 or less. If you are
an individual who owns a business (i.e. sole proprietor) and do business under a fictitious
business name, you are considered to be an "individual" in Small Claims Court. For example,
if you are a plumber doing business as XYZ Plumbing and want to sue a customer who has
not paid you, you can file a claim for up to $10,000. If your business is a corporation,
partnership or any other type of entity other than a sole proprietorship, your maximum claim
amount is $5,000.
Important note: You can’t file more than 2 Small Claims Court actions for more than $2,500
in California during any calendar year. For example, if you file a claim for $3,000 in February
of this year, and another claim for $4,000 in March of this year, you can’t file another claim
for more than $2,500.00 in any Small Claims Court in California until January 1 of next year.
However, you can still file as many claims as you want for $2,500 or less.
If you are filing the claim, you are the plaintiff.
If you are being sued, you are the defendant.
Here are some examples of common Small Claims cases:
- Your former landlord refuses to return the security deposit you paid.
- Someone dents your fender and refuses to pay for repairs.
- Your new TV doesn’t work, and the store won’t fix it.
- Your tenant caused damage to the apartment and the repairs cost more than the
security deposit. (Note: You can't use Small Claims Court to evict someone.)
- You lent money to a friend, and she refuses to pay you back.
- Small Claims Court can also order a defendant to do something, as long as you are
also asking for money in your claim. For example, the court can cancel a contract. Or,
the court can order your neighbor to pay you for your lawn mower or to return it to
you right away.
You don't have to be a U.S. citizen to file or defend a case in Small Claims Court. If you don't
speak English well, bring someone who speaks English and ask the judge if that person can
be your interpreter. The court can’t give you an interpreter. You may find a list of interpreters
at the state's judicial website.
Different limits apply in an action against a defendant who is a guarantor. (See Code CIv.
Pric., § 116.220 (c).) In an action brought by a natural person for damages for bodily injuries
resulting from an automobile accident, a $7,500 limit applies if a defendant is covered by an
automobile insurance policy that includes a duty to defend. (See Code Civ. Proc., § 116.221.)
Disclaimer: This website does not give you legal advice. This is only general information.
If you would like to search the Court's case index for information about a particular Small
Claims case, or look up a hearing date, visit http://banweb.co.fresno.ca.us.
Plaintiff’s Claim and ORDER
to Go to Small Claims Court
Other Plaintiffs or
Defendants (Small Claims)
Proof of Service (Small Claims)
Request for Dismissal
Fictitious Business Name
Fresno County Small Claims
and Civil Advisory
a project of the BBB in Partnership with Fresno Superior Court
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