Small Claims information
When all attempts to collect money owed to you have failed, small claims can be the fastest most inexpensive way to secure a judgment against them.

Small claims court is favorable for damages under $7500.  Generally, it is you, the other party and the judge present during the hearing.  The cases are decided on the hearing date and you can begin collecting your judgment 30 days after the ruling. 

Here are a few simple examples of how small claims court can assist you:

- Landlord tenant disputes over items like deposits or damages to a rental unit

- Unpaid loans

- Poor contractor work

- Personal injury, fraud, damages from car accidents not paid by their insurance companies



S&R Services can make the process simple for you and handle the leg work on a variety of levels. We have been in the industry for over 15 years and have maintained an A+ accredited rating from the better business bureau.



We have packages to suite nearly every budget.  Visit our pricing section for more details. S&R Services is a process serving company here to assist you with filing your paperwork at the court and serving the defendant(s). We are not attorneys so you should take a moment to read our disclaimer.





How does the small claims process work?

We have outlined a few main points below.  You can obtain alot of information from the court's website:  http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/smallclaims/scbasics.htm



1) Make a formal demand for payment from the defendant in the form of a letter. 

You will need this letter at your hearing to show the judge that you have made the diligent efforts to settle this matter outside of court.



2) Fill out the paperwork from the court. 

The forms can be found on the court's website in the small claims self-help center

http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/smallclaims/scforms 



3) File your case at the court. 

The fees can range from $30-75 and up depending on the amount of your claim and the number of cases you have filed in the past 12 months.



4) Serve the defendant(s)



5) File your proof of service prior to your hearing date



6) Show up to your hearing. 

Refer to the court's self help section on how to prepare for your day in court. http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/smallclaims/getready.htm





What are the different ways to serve the defendant(s)?



1) Certified mail: 

This service is provided by the court.  It is the most inexpensive way to serve the papers.  Unfortunately, it can also be the most ineffective type of service.  If the defendant does not show for the hearing or does not sign for the certified mail then you will need to use a different means of service and often will need to make another trip to court to obtain a new hearing date because the papers need to be served in a timely manner.



2) In person service via the sheriff's office. 

Many sheriff's offices do not serve process any longer for one reason or another.  Those that do generally only serve Monday-Friday during normal business hours 9:00am to 5:00pm.



3) Service via registered process server. 

All of our process servers are registered and bonded.  S&R Services is insured with errors and omissions and general liablity policies.  Don't be afraid to ask your process server if they are insured.  Independant process servers are only required to be registered and carry a $2,000 bond.  If you choose to use a different process server be wary of hidden costs like mailings, proof of service preparations, fuel surcharges.  Our rates are a flat fee per party/per address for up to 5 attempts.



For more information about how to serve your claim, you can also view information on the court's website:

http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/smallclaims/serve.htm#service





How much time do I need to serve the defendant(s)?

This depends on what type of papers you are serving. 



Plaintiff's claim and order to defendant: (add 5 days if the court is located in a different county than where you are serving the papers).



Personal service:  Within 15 days of your hearing date

This means the papers are given to the named party directly.



Substituted service: Within 25 days of your hearing date

The court permits leaving the papers with any adult over 18 at the defendant(s) home, work or usual place of mailing (except for a US post office P.O. Box)



If you were not able to serve the defendant(s) in a timely manner you will need to complete form SC-110 (request for continuance) at least 10 days prior to your hearing.  Some courts will charge for a continuance.



Defendant's claim:

Can be served up to 5 days before the hearing either by personal or substituted service



Order of examination:

Must be personally served at least 10 days prior to the hearing date