If You Have Been Sued in Small Claims Court

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The person, business or government agency that files court papers first is called the "plaintiff," and is known as the plaintiff until there is a court judgment.  The person, business or government agency that is being sued is known as the "defendant," and is known as the defendant throughout the case – regardless of whether or not they counter sued by filing a case against the plaintiff.

You should know:

If you have been correctly served with papers that tell you that you are being sued, and IF you do not show up in court on the day of your hearing, you could be "in default." Opens new window  If this happens, your case may be decided without your participation. By doing nothing, you are giving up your right to have any say in the matter.

Most people want to take part in the decisions that are going to be made about their future.

This part of the website has information to help you respond.

The section called "Before a Court Case" gives you information to help you decide what you want to do.

The section called "During Your Court Case" gives you information about how to get through the court process, if that's what you decide to do.

The section called "After Your Court Case" gives you information about:

Please note:

  • Some words have special meanings when used by the court.  If you click on a word that is in blue with this symbol (example default Opens new window), a new window will open and it will give you an explanation of what the word means.
  • We also have some videos that may help you understand this information.  If you see this link (example “Show Me | Tell Me”) Opens new window you can click on this link which will take you to a page with video and audio files that you can watch and/or listen to on your computer.
  • Finally, most people have lots of questions about small claims cases. For this reason, we have created a list of Frequently Asked Questions, and about the forms you will need for your case.

To get the information you need, you can click on the section name that is in blue, use the “drop down” menu at the left side of each page, or you can click on the “Next” button at the bottom of some pages.

To view some short videos with general information about how California's court system works, click hereOpens new window

To view a short video about the Basics of Small Claims Court, click here. Opens new window

For information about the Small Claims Advisor program in your county, click here. Opens new window

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