So you have a case that falls under $10,000, but you’re not sure whether to file it as a small claims or limited civil case. Actually, what IS the difference between small claims and limited civil cases? Quite a lot actually.

Depending on which category you file your case as, you could either be spending MORE or less in suing the defendant. So here are the main differences between small claims and limited civil cases.

Small Claims

In summary, the most notable aspects of small claims is that:

  1. Filing fees are much cheaper.
  2. Lawyers can NOT represent your case. You’ll have to do that part yourself.
  3. The rules and procedures for court is more informal and simple.
  4. Decisions on cases are made faster, typically within 3 months.
  5. Only the defendant can appeal the court’s final decision. Not the plaintiff.
  6. There’s a limit to how much you can sue for and how many times you can sue. No more than twice in a one year calendar for over $2,500.
  7. Upon winning, the court can order the losing side to pay your court fees and costs.
  8. The defendant must be served in California, if not, you can’t continue your claim (except for a few exceptions).

Limited Civil

In comparison, for limited civil cases:

  1. Filing fees can be pretty expensive!
  2. Lawyer CAN represent you (but obviously you must pay your lawyer, which adds to costs).
  3. All rules and procedures required in “regular civil cases” must be followed and they are quite complicated and time consuming.
  4. Decisions on cases can take up to a year or longer to decide.
  5. Either side can appeal the court’s final decision.
  6. You can sue for any number of lawsuits for any amount.
  7. Upon winning, the court can order the losing side to pay your court fees and costs, but the judge can decide not to order the losing side to pay for fees and costs if you filed a limited case when you could have filed a small claims.
  8. Defendants can be served outside of California.

Small Claims VS Limited Civil

In conclusion, which category you file under will depend on your budget and time. There are pros and cons to filing as either a small claims case or a limited civil case. However, it is up to you to decide which case and courthouse you will want to file under.

If you find yourself in the situation where you need to sue someone in small claims court, SueYa can help you fill out your documents instantaneously through our easy to use form generator. All we need is your case information. Moreover, we provide several other services like filing with your courthouse, serving your defendant, collecting your judgment, and more. You can find out more about SueYa’s services here.

The Help When You Need It

Any time that you need help with your small claims case, reach out to us via LiveChat, on the phone at 1-888-SUE-YA-88. Most clients successfully complete their small claims paperwork without issue.

Works Cited

“Cases for $10,000 or Less.” Cases for $10,000 or Less – Money_selfhelp. Judicial Council of California, n.d. Web. 06 Feb. 2017.