As an attorney that spends a LOT if time in Small Claims court, I get this question a lot. Just because you CAN go to Small Claims, does not mean that you should. Your case is not about whether you will win in court, but rather assuming you win, CAN you collect on the judgment.
As you are in Sacramento, there should be a personal injury lawyer that would be willing to take your case on contingency. In the interim, find a way to work out a payment plan with your creditors. But you REALLY...
In short, oppose the request. Hopefully, there is a dispute section in your agreement that awards costs to the prevailing party.
However, to make any kind of judgment like that, I or any other attorney would need to see the agreement. Talk to a local attorney for a consult.
As others have said, your insurance company is there to assist you. If you lose, they will pay. They may also appeal on your behalf and provide an attorney at the appeal hearing.
In the interim, make sure the insurance company has all information.
If you are hit from behind, I believe the other side is at fault for following too closely; however, I would consult with an attorney that handles auto accidents. You cannot be too safe.
As there are no witnesses, he will be a he said-she said. A common occurrence in Small Claims. your best bet, as my colleagues had suggested, is to notify the insurance company. They have an obligation to pay if you are found at fault.
They MAY accompany you to the trial. They can even appeal and/or hire a lawyer for you for that appeal.
The fact that you are being sied for $7500 makes me think that the driver has been to Small Claims before as this used to be the maximum that you...
The one thing my colleagues have not mentioned is that IF the court determines the ONLY reason you appealed was to delay the inevitable or that the appeal was brought in bad faith, the court can award up to $1000 in travel costs/lost wages AND up to $1000 in attorney's fees to the plaintiff (CCP 116.790).
If there is no REAL basis for your appeal, then as my colleague has suggested, file a motion to pay the judgment in installments.
If you have further questions, be sure to speak with a...
Just because it is Small Claims does not mean that ALL of the laws regarding lawsuits are different. As Mr. Chen stated, the Plaintiff still has the burden of proof to established that they had been harmed in the amount of $10,000.
As for you suing, the luxury of living in CA is that anyone can sue for any purpose. I can sue you because I hate Angelinos (I do not). That being said, your only claim - that I can think of based on the facts provided - is for malicious prosecution or abuse of...
1) I agree with Mr. Pedersen.
2) There is a free mediation service in LA County for LA County parties.
3) Small Claims has a Mediation program free to the parties.
4) If the realtor has ALREADY filed the lawsuit, file form SC-105 (Request For Court Order and Answer; www.courts.ca.gov/documents/SC105.pdf) and request that the court send the parties to Mandatory Arbitration pursuant to the terms of the contract; presuming there is no "escape clause" for pursuing the matter in Small Claims....
I answered a question like this only a week ago.
You should sue the HOA. Do not worry about insurance companies., they will get involved if you win. Do not worry about agents, as they are protected by the companies they work for.
IF you have further questions, be sure to speak with a alwyer that knows Small Claims. Try: www.smallclaimsappeals.com
As an attorney that specializes in representing parties in Small Claims matters, I ALWAYS say this:
"Is a dentist required to pull a tooth? No, but it is helpful."
Same goes for ANY legal action. The courts speak the language of the law, as do attorney's. It cannot hurt you too much to havef a lawyer. But as other posters have said, make sure the economics of the case favor you to hire an attorney.
Punitive damages are the ONLY REAL advantage of Limited Civil. The filing fee is more, lawyers get involved, but you are capped at $10,000 in Small Claims and punitive damages are RARELY given.
The court is usually fine in granting the statutory damages against an unlicensed contractor, but other than than, this is probably the most you can hope for in Small Claims.