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If there are multiple parties involved in a small claims case, can the total amount be over the $10,000 limit?

Lincoln, CA |

In this case , there are two plaintiffs and two defendants in the lawsuit from the same incident . If each plaintiff claims $ 10 , 000 from both defendants , is it OK for the total amount to be $ 20 , 000 ?

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Filed under: Small claims court
Attorney answers 3


No, the maximum an individual plaintiff can recover is $10,000 per small claims court case. Here, each plaintiff would have to file a separate small claims action.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


Safest thing to do is to have each pltf file 2 separate cases, one against each of the 2 defts. W/o more details, cant say whether the legal theoty would allow separate recovery against each deft. For example if 1 deft is the driver and hit you, and deft 2 is the owner of the veh and merely allowed deft 1 to use the car, deft 2 is vicariously liable for up to 15k for injury under the vehicle code. that would be reduced to either 10k the max in small claims court, or 7500.00 if it is a motor vehicle case and the defts have auto ins. Deft 2 could be separately/directly liable if he was negligent himslef by entrusting the veh to someone he knew was not competent to drive for example or for loaning his car to someone if he knew the brakes were defective. Then there is the issue of what damages you have, and if each deft was partially liable, how their liability percentages would affect the award of damages against each. I hope you get a small claims judge who understands these issues.


No--unfortunately, the total cannot be over the $10,000 limit. However, as my colleagues have already pointed out, each plaintiff should file their own separate suit. Best of luck to you.