What Documents Do I Need for Small Claims Court?

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    If you are suing or being sued by another person or business, your matter will likely head to small claims court. Small claims matters in California cannot exceed damages of $10,000 if you’re an individual or $5,000 if you’re a business. Although you won’t become a millionaire in small claims court, this type of legal dispute resolution is easily accessible for average residents and is relatively inexpensive. Because you cannot bring a lawyer into a hearing with you, though, it’s important to ensure you are prepared with all the relevant documents to succeed.

    Basic Small Claims Documents

    The first and most important document a plaintiff should file to bring a small claims case is the Plaintiff’s Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court. Without this document, your case doesn’t exist. Depending on your case, small claims court may require additional documents to get the full picture. These may include:

    • Other Plaintiffs or Defendants forms
    • Attorney Fee Dispute documents
    • Fictitious Business Name forms
    • Proof of Service

    There are many reasons to go to small claims court, so there are many documents you may need to file alongside your case. If you are confused, consulting a legal professional like a legal document assistant can help clarify what the court expects. You can find a list of possible forms here.

    Optional Paperwork

    Your case will likely not be the only one heard at your hearing date and time. The judge must work through all the cases on the docket for the day. For this reason, having extra documents on hand that can help streamline your case in small claims court can help get you in and out. Specifically, bringing evidence of your claims (or your innocence if you’re a defendant) will speed the process along. Some evidence types include:

    • Receipts
    • Bills
    • Photos
    • Text messages or emails
    • Contracts
    • Witness testimonies