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Where Do I File My Case?

You must file your claim in the proper Small Claims Court or venue. You must state on your Plaintiff’s Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court (SC-100) why you think you have chosen the correct filing location. If you file your claim in the wrong county or at the wrong court location in the correct county, the judge may transfer the case to the proper court location or have the case dismiss without prejudice. You may then file again in the correct location and pay the filing fee again.

The general rule is that the case must be filed in the county or court location where the defendant lives. There are some exceptions to the rule that a case must be filed and heard in a court within the county where the defendant lives which are:

If the claim type is: Claim can be filed in county or court location where:
An automobile accident
  • Accident occurred
  • Defendant lives
A contract
  • Contract was signed
  • Contract was to be performed by the defendant
  • You were to be paid
A consumer purchase and you are the seller
  • Defendant signed the contract
  • Defendant lived when the contract was signed
  • Defendant lived when the action was filed
  • Goods purchased on credit are installed or permanently kept
A consumer purchase and you are the buyer
  • You signed the contract
  • You lived when the contract was signed
  • You lived when the action was filed

The exceptions to the rules on determining where to file can be hard to understand. The Small Claims Advisor can help you understand which location is best.

For more information on venue the Small Claims Court Advisor can help, go to the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs website.

For help with finding the filing court location, go to the Filing Court Locator section.

More Small Claims Q&A Topics
Small Claims Basics
Thinking about Filing a Small Claims case?
Filing my case
Serving Notice of my case to the defendant
Responding to a Small Claims case as a defendant
Appearing in Court
Your Day in Court
Collecting a Judgment
Paying a Judgment
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