If you are thinking about suing another person or business, first try talking to them before going to court. Try to work things out or send them a “demand letter” that asks the other person or business to pay you what they owe. Advise them in the letter of the amount they owe you and remind them that this will be their only chance to settle the matter before you file suit against them in Small Claims Court.
You could agree to a lump sum payment or to a payment plan. Give them a date by which to respond and then wait for a reply. Remind them that it will be in their best interest to settle the matter before you file a lawsuit against them. You may want to remind them that if a judgment is obtained against them that they will have to pay court costs and it will affect their credit rating. And if the amount owed is a large sum that needs to be paid in installments, the interest rate will be high.
Another alternative is mediation. Mediation is where you and the other party meet with a neutral person – called a mediator – who is specially trained to help people resolve their disputes without having to go in front of a judge. In mediation, everyone works together to find a solution, instead of having the judge make a decision.
Try and think the matter through. Ask yourself these questions before filing your claim so you do not find yourself worse off after suing than if you did not sue at all.
- Will going to court give you want you want?
- Is the other party you are suing actually able to pay? Do they have the resources to comply with a court order? Could they declare bankruptcy?
- Do you want to sue a neighbor because of bad behavior? Will suing make the matter better or worse? The courts cannot force good behavior!
- Will the time and money it takes to go to court be worth the likely outcome?
Learn about how the small claims court works. Go to the courthouse and watch a small claims hearing. That way you will know what to expect.
If you are thinking about suing someone in California, contact legal counsel and ask questions. http://jdfinder.com can match you to lawyers in your area who want to advise and help you. Our service is free and you can hire the attorney that best suits your needs. Experienced legal counsel is always your best defense. Fill out the secure mailing form below. There is no obligation and consultations are completely confidential.