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You may be able to recover up to $10,000 without a lawyer in Small Claims Court

Subject to a few exceptions, individuals and sole proprietorships can sue for up to $10,000 in California’s Small Claims Courts. Business entities (corporations, LLCs, etc.) are limited to $5,000.

If you have a legal dispute that does not involve a lot of money, then Small Claims Court may be a good option. You can consult a lawyer to prepare you for the case, but you cannot have a lawyer represent you in Small Claims Court.

Small Claims Court is an economical, less formal, and often more efficient alternative to litigation for smaller cases. Even if your claim involves more than $10,000, you may decide that suing for $10,000 is preferable to hiring a lawyer and incurring the expense and delay of traditional litigation.

Detailed information about the small claims process is available at the California Courts website: http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htm  In addition, most California courts have local small claims information on their websites.