This is the "Home" page of the "Everything Small Claims" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content

Everything Small Claims   Tags: claims, sdll, small, small claims  

a guide to filing a small claims action in San Diego
Last Updated: May 31, 2016 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

Home Print Page


This Resource Guide for Small Claims Court litigants is designed to direct you to a number of resources and locations where you can get help to file and prepare your Small Claims Court case.

Some of the resources will provide you an opportunity to talk with someone about your case. Some of the resources will require that you read and understand material about Small Claims Court and apply what you read yourself.

For instance should you go to the Law Library for assistance you will be referred to materials that will help you, and you will be called upon to read, review and apply the materials on your own to your particular case.

We hope this Resource Guide is helpful.


Support the Law Library

Was this research guide helpful? Please consider giving a tax-deductible donation so we can continue to provide access to legal information.

Thank you for your support!



I'd Like Some In-Person Help

Legal clinics and other resources referred to here will allow you to discuss your case with someone at the legal clinics and you will be given information about how to handle your case by the person you speak with.

Start here to find out if you have a claim or defense. Advisors and volunteers at the clinics may be able to provide you with information to determine if you have a legal claim. Once it is established that you have a valid legal claim or defense, you can use the other resources in this guide to start or reply to a small claims case.

For in person help, you can consult the following:

  • If you think you may be able to reach an agreement with the other party, the National Conflict Resolution Center may be able to offer free mediation to resolve the dispute without going to court. Call 619-238-2400 
  • The San Diego Superior Court has a Small Claims Advisor. They offer workshops, and other services. Call 858-634-1777 for more info.
  • USD School of Law has a  Small Claims Clinic. They require appointments, call 619-260-7470.
  • California Western School of Law  offers a Community Law Project which offers walk in legal advice and referrals at five locations in San Diego.
  • Thomas Jefferson School of Law has a Small Claims Clinic. Call 961-4371 for more info.
  • The San Diego County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service has a Small Claims panel. Fees may be involved. Call 619-231-8585 for more info.

Lawyers usually cannot represent you in a small claims action. They may advise you, but  with some exceptions you must represent yourself in court.

This guide is intended to assist you in preparing for your small claims action. It is not intended to provide legal advice. Be certain to do your own thorough research.


Can I File a Small Claims Court Case?

By law, every superior court in California shall have a small claims division.  See: Code of Civil Procedure 116.210.

The Small Claims Court has jurisdiction in the following actions:

Read the Code carefully to be sure your claim is a fit.

There are limits to the number of small claims actions you can bring. See Code of Civil Procedure, section 116.231.


What Do I Do?

The San Diego Superior Court has a great information page for small claims procedure on their website here.

As with any lawsuit,if you can't resolve your dispute through discussion or mediation, you can start by filing a claim (or complaint) with the court, and then serving that claim on the defendant. You will then appear in court and present your case to the judge.

You can find all the forms you need for your small claims action on the court's website here.  Start by reading the Information Sheet.

If you are being sued in Small Claims court, start by reading the information provided on the Plaintiffs Claim that was served on you. It tells you when to appear in court and what you have to bring, and offers options that may stop the claim from proceeding in the court.

Look at the Resources page of this Guide for online materials, and hard copy materials that will assist you.


    Jurisdictions and Courts

    Where do I file my small claims complaint?  Look here.

    Check out Small Claims FAQ's.

    What to expect in Small Claims Court - some tips for both parties!


    Loading  Loading...