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Filing a Small Claims Court Case

Updated: Oct 29, 2022

Four options: In person, by mail, by fax. By mail is selected for mailing a demand letter. Background is a map of the united states with California highlighted.

When filing a case in small claims court, you have to keep 2 things in mind: 1) where to file; 2) how to file.

Where to file

The location of your filing will depend on your case situation:

  • Where the defendant lives or does business

  • Where the plaintiff's property was damaged

  • Where the plaintiff was injured

  • Where a contract (written or spoken) was made, signed, performed, or broken by the defendant or where the defendant lived or did business when the defendant made the contract

  • Where the buyer or lessee signed the contract, lives now, or lived when the contract was made, if this claim is about an offer or contract for personal, family, or household goods, services, or loans

  • Where the buyer signed the contract, lives now, or lived when the contract was made, if this claim is about a retail installment contract (like a credit card).

  • Where the buyer signed the contract, lives now, or lived when the contract was made, or where the vehicle is permanently garaged, if this claim is about a vehicle financed sale

Multiple counties could serve as proper venues to file a lawsuit. For example, if the driver that hit you lives in Los Angeles County, the owner of the car lives in Orange County, and the accident happened in Riverside county, you could choose any of those three counties (L.A., Orange County or Riverside) to file your lawsuit in.

How to file

Each county has different filing options:

  • Dropbox option may be temporary due to Covid-19

  • Fax and e-filing may have an additional cost

  • Some counties may require additional county-specific forms

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The quest for justice is never easy, particularly when it comes to getting your money back. However, thanks to advances in technology, it has become easier. Quest for Justice’s first app, JusticeDirect, is the only app of its kind designed to support people without lawyers resolve their dispute and get their money back, both in and out of court. The first step to getting money back is through a letter demanding payment from the other party JusticeDirect offers customizable demand letters for free. If the letter demanding payment does not work, then the next step is taking them to court. JusticeDirect* will guide users every step of the way through the small claims court process by helping them:

  1. Understand the legal process;

  2. Evaluate the pros and cons that come with taking someone to court;

  3. Generate small claims court forms; and,

  4. Avoid common mistakes when filing your forms and serving notice on the other side.

*Currently, JusticeDirect can only help litigants sue in California’s small claims court.

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