It happens all too often—someone does you wrong but it is simply not worth it to make it right. Time and money are often the most important factors in making the decision to move on. In some courtrooms, the waiting time for an ordinary motion hearing can be many months. The filing of a complaint in California state courts also comes with a hefty price tag. For cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $10,000.00, the standard filing fee alone is between $225.00 and $250.00 depending on the county in which you file. However, before you make the decision to simply let go of a genuine claim, consider the following alternatives.
Pick Up the Phone
Chances are you have already tried to speak with the other party to your dispute. If not, consider giving them a call. If the time and money commitments of litigation are too much for you, the same factors may be on the mind of your opponent as well. This may be your best bet in resolving the matter without court intervention. You can also help your case by hiring an attorney to make the phone call on your behalf. After all, a qualified attorney may be in a better position to evaluate and explain the validity of your legal claims.
Write a Letter
It is always good to document your attempts at out of court resolution and writing a letter may help you in that regard. Hiring qualified counsel may also be of benefit to you in this situation. For one, the involvement of an attorney in your dispute may show to the other side that you are serious about your claim. Additionally, as with a phone call, an attorney may be in a better position to explain the validity of your legal claim and ensure that the record you create serves your best interests.
As we have previously written, some sources indicate that up to 95% of lawsuit settle outside of court. The major advantage of settlement is the ability of the parties to determine the outcome of their case on their own terms. Unlike a court imposed judgment with which the opposing party may vehemently disagree, voluntarily agreed upon settlement payments may provide further assurance to the party bringing the claim that he or she will actually recover on the claim.
Mediation is one of the most frequently used methods of dispute resolution. A number of organizations also provide free mediation services. You may find a list of mediation services on the website of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (www.dca.ca.gov). At the risk of sounding repetitive, for all of the reasons listed above, a qualified attorney may also prove helpful in mediation.
File a Small Claims Action
If you have exhausted all informal methods of resolution, do not despair. You may still be able to file a small claims action. In general, small claims in California are limited to disputes where the amount in controversy does not exceed $5,000.00. An exception applies for natural persons who can claim up to $10,000.00 and additional exceptions may apply depending on the nature of the matter involved. However, do note that most claimants may file no more than two small claims that exceed $2,500.00 during one calendar year.
In general, small claims filing fees are much lower than in limited civil cases. For claims of $1,500.00 or less the filing fee is only $30.00, claims exceeding $1,500.00 but less than or equal to $5,000.00 require a filing fee of $50.00, and claims exceeding $5,000.00 and up to the statutory limit are charged a fee of $75.00. If you have filed more than 12 small claims within the previous 12 months, you will be charged a fee of $100.00.
As always, it is important to note that every case is different and not all of the applicable rules and exceptions could be listed in this post. If you are interested in receiving advice regarding your claim, contact us at 1-844-HOLBORN and one of our litigation attorneys will be happy to assist you.
Disclaimer: This post is meant for general informational purposes only, and it is not to be construed as legal advice. As with any laws, the information in this blog post may change at any time and may apply differently in different jurisdictions. The post may constitute Attorney Advertising as defined by the rules of professional responsibility of some jurisdictions. Holborn Law is based in Orange County and Riverside. The attorneys of Holborn Law APC are active members of the State Bar of California and licensed to practice law in California. All services relating to immigration and naturalization provided by Holborn Law APC are provided by active members of the State Bar of California or by a person under the supervision of an active member of the State Bar of California.