How Much Can You Sue Someone for In California Small Claims?

[This transcript made from an automated audio transcription from the video posted below. Grammatical errors may be present in the transcript below. For help from The Small Claims Lawyer, visit or call 888-632-6623.This transcript is for informational purposes only and may not be relied on as legal advice.]

Hey everyone this is attorney Brian Russ, here today to talk about jurisdictional limits and how much you can sue for in small claims court again this video is specific to California. I’m a California lawyer helping people with California cases, helping people with small claims in California so this video is focused on how much you can sue somebody for getting California small claims court. Now before we go further, I have a few disclaimers I have to give you the first disclaimer is that this video is not legal advice. This is for informational purposes only. I’m not recording it for any particular person or any particular situation. If you need legal advice, you need to get an attorney, you need to retain an attorney to help you with your legal situation do not rely on YouTube videos and blogs and things like that to really, you know get hammered home legal advice for your situation. Each case is incredibly fact specific and you need to present your case based on the facts available, and how the law applies those facts. That’s why I tell people that’s really where attorneys, you know, our key is is matching up the law with the facts of the case, we can talk about the law all day in a sterile vacuum environment but really what you want to do is is capture the law as it applies to your case. Next, disclaimer is by viewing this video no attorney client relationship forms between you and I, again, I’m not making this video for anybody or any particular situation I don’t know who you are I don’t know your situation so no attorney client relationship is arising from this video, and finally to the extent this video can be considered an advertisement should be considered an advertisement I’m a I’m a lawyer I sell my services, I have my URL my web address up there at the top, along with my phone number, I want you to reach out and contact us and we’ll have a conversation and see if maybe we can work something out or we can work together. So now onto the video, the main points so small claims suit limits key points.

Now first, the first thing you have to recognize is that there are different limits for individuals for natural persons and for entities. This Small Claims Act. I’m sure you’ve all read it. No, I’ve read it several times. Many times I read almost every day. You know it’s interesting, there’s a clause in there where it says like, Oh, they’re the limit is, you know $5,000 And then, like, you know, to two sections later says, oh, but for natural persons here’s, here’s a different limit. And so what they’re really saying is that, you know, there’s a difference between how individuals, and basically corporations or organizations, groups, things like that are treated. And I’ve seen a lot of cases where, you know, somebody will file a suit, as a corporation to get to the higher limit that’s allowed for individuals, and that’s not allowed the court will see through that. And if you’re being sued, you should really keep an eye out for that I’ll give you some examples in a second, but I want to get to the limits first so the first one is that for an individual for natural person, the limit is $10,000 Maximum you cannot recover more than $10,000 in a small claims action. So even if your action is successful. And, you know You, the court can find, oh you know there was, you know $25,000 in damages. The court is limited by the law to only award a judgment of no more than $10,000. So again, you know if it’s, if it’s more than 10,000, even if it’s, I’ve seen it where courts have cut off the the recovery of costs, and other sometimes attorneys fees, they’ll cut them off, they say no you can’t get more than $10,000 in small claims you got to go to higher General Court. So the 10,000 is really a hard cap the court law courts, see that they just do not have jurisdictional authority to go above 10,000 It’s very clear for direct damages for general damages. There’s no more than 10,000 but some apply that limit to things like costs and other other things associated with the case. Now the limit for entities. So again these are, these are corporations, you know, organizations membership groups, things like that it’s a $5,000 maximum. So, so, so you know if you, you as an individual, and you contract with let’s say a car dealership and the car dealership does something wrong they breach your contract you can sue them for up to $10,000. Now let’s say you breach the contract you gave them a bad check or something, they can only sue you the car dealership only sue you for up to $5,000 a $5,000 maximum for entities, so it gives it gives consumers kind of a leg up on corporations. Now what I will say is I’ve seen this happen before I’ve read about this is that, you know place like a car dealership maybe where it’s a single member LLC it’s one person running the LLC, or it’s one person running the corporation. You know what they try to do is they try to sue you, they say, Well, me as an individual, they say me as the owner, I’m going to sue you, the customer. For more than 5000 to $10,000 limit that’s not allowed for the statute, because, you know,

they have to sue you in the capacity they were harmed so they are harmed as a corporation. The corporation has to sue you. Right, they can’t, they can’t claim it both ways where they get the benefits of being a corporation. And then, and then when they, when it’s inconvenient they can say, Oh, I’m not a corporation, so. So you so look out for that, you know, especially if you’re the one on the receiving end of the suit. You see if somebody tried to get out of the corporate umbrella there now, I have to look again so props might be different ality and let’s hold props I’ll do another video on sole proprietorships and how they apply to small claims act. The next point I want to make is that there is a limit on the number of claims you can bring in small claims a year. So it’s per calendar year, you can only bring up to two claims in excess of $2,500. So, if you have, you know, four or five claims all for over $2,500, you can only bring two of them per year in a calendar year. So, you know, I mean you can line them up so you file to in December, and then you file the next two in January, you know that’s a calendar year, maybe, maybe the courts gonna say you have a 12 month waiting period. So I’d say, you know, do no more than a 12 month period, don’t, don’t tempt fate Don’t Don’t tempt the court to dismiss your suit with prejudice. But the law says you know, no more than two claims per year in excess of 2500 a calendar year you will be making a declaration under the penalty of perjury when you file a small claims suit saying that you haven’t filed more than 2500 more than two over 2500 In the past year. So do not perjure yourself by lying. This does apply to the entire state. So if you have brought a claim and seeing if you brought 2 $2,500 claims to San Diego, you know, you can’t go bring 2 $2,500 claims in Madera, or you know anywhere else so it is good for the entire state.

Well that’s it for the video today I want you to make sure to come to my website, Go to the small claims lawyer calm you can get some freebies there I have some free guides, I’m probably going to post a free webinar or something like that if they’re soon. Visit the website, get more information, you know, if you want to work with us, or if you at least want to have an initial call with our team. I encourage you to do so. We have lots of different packages ways we can make it work for you. We want to work with you. So, I should say, assuming the cases is good and you seem like a reasonable person will probably want to work with you. So, visit the site, give us a call. And that’s it. We’ll catch you later.

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