Roughly 60,000 people file small claims lawsuits in LA County every year. But some think that number would be even higher, if people weren't intimidated by the process. But there's a new service that promises to help make the process as simple as possible.
Nathan Storey had a dispute with a former friend who owed him $10,000. Storey started the small claims process, but said he couldn't figure it out.
"It is a scary and nerve wracking process in the beginning," said Storey.
He almost threw in the towel, until he stumbled on a company called People Clerk, which pegs itself as a "small claims assistant." Attorney Camila Lopez came up with the idea after friends and family kept asking for advice about their own disputes.
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"It was constant, every week," said Lopez. "I was like 'Wow, another fender bender, a security deposit." People Clerk doesn't offer legal advice; instead, it guides you through the entire process. It helps you prepare the lawsuit, file it, serve the defendant, and prepare your evidence for the hearing.
"One of the most common mistakes that we've seen in small claims is that the person will show up to the hearing taking papers out of their backpack, out of their purse, they're just not prepared." said Lopez.
Lopez said the most common cases involve security deposits, fender benders, property damage, and feuds with neighbors.
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The service costs $49. If you win or settle your case, you pay an additional $99.
As for Storey, he says People Clerk helped him win his case - a $10,000 judgment against his former friend.
"I don't think I could have done it without them," said Storey.
Lopez hopes her service helps many others.
"How many people were not going to small claims court before because it was so hard, so confusing, you've got to pay for parking, get on the 405," said Lopez.
Once you win your case, you then have to collect the judgment, which is sometimes the hardest part. People Clerk currently doesn't help you collect the judgement, but Lopez said it'll add that service in a few months.