Civil Lawsuits: Sue or be Sued Category: Courts and Procedure
If you have lost money or property, had to pay medical bills or repair bills, and/or suffered lasting pain and effects from an event, you may be able to sue the person responsible to for the money to you need compensate you for your losses. You must file this lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out.
If you are served with a lawsuit, you need to respond, usually within 20 or 30 days, or you can lose by default.
This topic covers starting and responding to a lawsuit and pre-trial motions and preparation.
Civil Rights: Section 1983
Title 42, Section 1983, of the United States Code is a procedural vehicle by which one whose federal statutory or constitutional rights have been violated can bring an action against state “actors” who commit these violations “under color of law.” The statute was rarely used until 1961, when the Supreme...Read More
Filing a Complaint to Start a Civil Lawsuit in California
This Guide provides general information and resources pertaining to filing a civil lawsuit in Sacramento County Superior Court. The steps for filing a lawsuit in other counties, small claims court, family law, probate, or a federal court are not discussed in this Guide. Forms you may need All cases require...Read More
Jury Verdicts and Settlements
Find out How Much Your Case Is Worth Jury verdicts and settlements can be of great value when attempting to evaluate cases. The Law Library contains the following resources to assist in this evaluation. O'Brien's Evaluator KFC 57 .E93 (Compact)Awards and settlements published annually. Factual and Injuries Indexes, under the...Read More
Calculating Personal Injury Damages
Learn About It If you are injured in an accident, at some point you will have determine how much money you think you are owed. This often happens soon after your injury, when an insurance company steps in and tries to negotiate a settlement with you. If no insurance is...Read More
Claims Against the Government
Lee en español: Reclamos Contra el Gobierno California Tort Claims Act Before you may sue a public entity, you must first file a claim meeting the requirements of the California Tort Claims Act (Government Code §§ 810-996.6). This law applies to public entities such as state, county, and local government...Read More
Am I Judgment Proof?
Lee en español: ¿Seré Yo Una Prueba de Sentencia Para Cobros? What does it mean to be “judgment proof?” “Judgment proof” is not a legal term, although we often receive requests for a legal definition of the phrase at the Law Library. In layman’s terms, a person is judgment proof...Read More
What is legal malpractice?
Lee en español: ¿Qué es negligencia legal? Attorneys have a duty to their clients use such skill, prudence, and diligence as members of the legal profession commonly possess and exercise (the “standard of care”). Malpractice occurs when the attorney breaches that duty; and the breach causes injury; and the injury...Read More
What is medical malpractice?
Lee en español: ¿Qué es Negligencia Médica? Medical malpractice occurs when a patient is harmed by a doctor (or other medical professional) who fails to competently perform his or her medical duties. Other causes of action, such as battery, breach of contract, and fraud and deceit, may apply in some...Read More
Should I represent myself in court?
Lee en español: “Me Represento Yo Mismo en la Corte?” Adapted in part from shlep: the Self-Help Law ExPress, “Should I go it alone” If you have been sued, or you are planning to sue someone, you may be wondering if it's possible to go to court without a lawyer....Read More
Should I Answer?
Lee en español: ¿Debo Responder? Responding to a Breach of Contract Lawsuit When a lawsuit is started against you, the Plaintiff will have you served with a Summons and Complaint. These documents formally notify you that a lawsuit has been initiated, and what the lawsuit is about. What are my...Read More
Steps in a Lawsuit: Overview
If You Understand Football You Can Understand a Civil Court Case First Round: Complaint and Answer The first step in any lawsuit is that the person who believes they have been wronged -- the plaintiff -- files a Summons and Complaint (or in some cases, a Petition) and has it...Read More
Missing Declaration of Venue or Statement of Damages Requirement Can Trip You Up
When you file and serve a new lawsuit, be careful to consider whether you need a Declaration of Venue or Statement of Damages and/or Notice of Reservation of Rights to Punitive Damages. If you later file a Request for Default, not having these served with the Summons and Complaint can...Read More
Small Claims Advisory Clinic, Sacramento
Courts and Procedure
Free assistance is available for both the plaintiff and defendant.
SH@LL (Self Help @ the Law Library) (formerly Civil Self Help Center)
Accidents and Torts
SH@LL provides general information and basic assistance to people without attorneys on a variety of civil legal issues. All assistance is provided by telephone or Zoom videoconference. Visit “What We Help With” for a list of qualifying cases.
Eligibility: Must be a Sacramento County resident or have a qualifying case in the Sacramento County Superior Court.
Sacramento Mediation Center
Courts and Procedure
Confidential and neutral conciliation and mediation services in neighborhood, landlord/tenant, real estate, family, commercial, organization, consumer/merchant, employer/employee, victim/offender and other disputes. Mediation services are not provided for physical or sexual assault cases. Also provides mediation training.
Civil Self Help Services
Courts and Procedure
Civil Self-Help Services (SHS) helps people without lawyers who have questions about simple issues related to a civil case. They can give you general information and help you prepare your own forms in the area of civil law. Common topics include civil harassment restraining orders, petitions for change of name/gender, and expungement of criminal convictions.
Responding to a Debt Collection Lawsuit (Answer-Contract)
Lee en español: Respuesta-Contrato (Answer-Contract) Background When a lawsuit is started against you, you will be served with a Summons and Complaint. Ideally, these will be personally served (delivered to you in person). Service is valid even if you refuse to take them, as long as the server informs you...Read More
Claim Opposing Forfeiture
The procedure described in this guide is used to ask for the return of property that may be forfeited as proceeds of criminal activity. If your property is the subject of forfeiture proceedings, you will be notified. In Sacramento County, if the property is taken at the time of arrest, law...Read More
Fee Waivers: Ask the Court to Waive or Lower the Cost of Fees
California Government Code §§ 68630 et. seq. permit the court to waive court fees and costs for litigants in certain financial situations. Your court fees may be waived if: You are receiving public benefits such as Medi-Cal, Food Stamps, General Assistance, Cal-Works, SSI, SSP, etc. Your household income is below...Read More
Injunction Against the DMV: Prevent Transfer of Title to Your Car
Related Guides Filing a New Civil Lawsuit Fee Waiver Guide Motion for Preliminary Injunction If you are concerned someone will sell or give away your vehicle without permission, you can file a “Courtesy Stop” request with the DMV to put a 60 day hold on transfers. Before you can do...Read More
Limited Civil Case Status Memorandum
Request for Trial in a Limited Civil Case A Limited Civil Case Status Memorandum (CV/E-202) is a Sacramento County Superior Court local form that tells the judge that one party is ready for trial, whether they want a jury, and how many hours they expect the trial to take. When...Read More
Tentative Rulings and Hearings in Sacramento Court
Pursuant to Sacramento County Local Rule 1.06, the court in most departments makes a tentative ruling on the motion by 2:00 p.m. the court day before the hearing. You then have two hours to request oral argument, if you choose to do so. If neither party does, the tentative ruling becomes final and...Read More