There are also 2 court forms that can help you understand service in your small claims case and make sure you follow the right steps. Read:
To make sure you serve your papers right, read each topic below for more information.
The deadline you have to serve your Plaintiff's Claim (Form SC-100) depends on HOW you serve the claim:
If you miss your deadline
If you were not able to serve your Plaintiff's Claim (Form SC-100) before the deadline for service, talk to the court clerk or the small claims legal advisor. Each local superior court has its own rules.
If you already served your claim on some parties but not everyone you are suing, you may need to fill out and file a Request to Postpone Trial (Small Claims) (Form SC-150) at least 10 days before the trial date (or explain why you could not meet the 10-day deadline). Then have a copy of this form served in person or by mail on all other plaintiffs and defendants listed on your court papers. Click for more information on changing your court date.
If the judge agrees to postpone your court date, you will get a new court date to give you time to serve everyone properly with your Planitiff's Claim.
The server must be at least 18 and not listed in the case. He or she can be:
There are 3 different ways to serve someone in a small claims case:
Ask your server to personally "serve" (give) a copy of your court papers to the person you are suing or to the agent legally authorized to accept court papers for the person, business, or public entity you are suing.
Tell the server to:
If the person you have to serve is not at home or work when your server goes there, your server can give the court papers to:
Your server also has to:
Service by Certified Mail by the Court Clerk
You can pay the court clerk to mail your claim to the person you are suing by certified mail. This can be very convenient and the fee is low.
But this type of service can also be very unreliable. The court will probably not accept it and will make you serve again (with personal or substituted service) if:
If you are suing a person (or people)--not a business or public entity--serve each person you are suing. For example, if you were in a car accident and you are suing the owner and the driver of the car, you must serve both people.
If you are suing a business or public entity, click on a topic below:
You must serve the defendant in California unless:
If neither of these exceptions apply to your case, you cannot sue this defendant in small claims court. You would have to sue him or her in a limited civil case (cases for $25,000 or less).
Ask the small claims legal advisor for help on how to serve someone outside California.
Once you have served the defendant with a copy of your claim, your server has to fill out a Proof of Service (Small Claims)
When the server fills out and signs the Proof of Service, you must file it with the court at least 5 days before your court date.
If you do not have a Proof of Service for each person served, or if the Proof of Service is not filled out correctly, the judge may not be able to hear your case. Have the small claims legal advisor look over the Proof of Service to make sure it was filled out correctly.
After you serve the defendant and file your Proof of Service with the court, you should get ready for Going to Court.