How to File a Small Claim in San Francisco County


Area of Law: 

Before filing a small claims case in San Francisco County, it is always advisable that you first ask the organization or person you intend to sue directly to return the property or money they owe you. In case of a written request, retain the post office’s return receipt as a proof of your request. Alternatively, you may also try mediation to resolve the disputes out of court.


While filing a small claims case in San Francisco County, you can claim a maximum of $7500 in damages as an individual, and a maximum of $5000 in damages as a corporation or business entity. You can make small claims of up to $2500 as many times in a calendar year as you want. However, for damages above $2500, you are allowed only two claims per calendar year. You are not allowed to divide a claim into small amounts to remain within the designated limit. For claims above the monetary limits of the small claims court, you have to file your case in the Superior Court.


In order to file a claim in San Francisco County, you may request for forms or information regarding filing a case from the office of the small claims courthouse by sending a stamped and self-addressed envelope. You can also ask for the small claims information booklet, by paying $1.50 as postage fee. Alternatively, you can use the judicial department’s self-help links for downloading the small claims case forms online.


A claim should ideally be filed in the county where the defendant resides. However, in some cases, the case may also be filed where the incident had taken place or in case of a corporation, where it conducts its business. In case you file the claim in the wrong county, the judge may dismiss the case without prejudice. So if you are unsure as to where you should file your claims, consult some small claims advisors.  The claims have to be filed within a specific time limit from the date of occurrence of the incident, failing which the case may be dismissed by the judge, unless you can provide a concrete legal reason for the delay.


Once you have obtained the right forms (usually SC-100, for litigant’s claim), fill them out carefully. After filing the claim, serve a copy of it to the defendant well before the hearing. The service of process may be done by a court officer for a payment. Once the defendant has been served, the small claims court must receive the filled out SC-104 form as a proof of your service. For more information on how to file a small claims case in San Francisco County, visit  or