Before filing a Small Claims case, one is required to write and mail a Demand Letter to the entity you intend to sue in Small Claims court. This letter briefly details the problem, states the nature of the injury, and provides a breakdown of the charges for which one is demanding payment.
One page is preferred, professional tone. Provide a date for compliance with the demand and let the defendant know the matter will be followed up in court if payment is not received.
If one receives payment, one need not proceed to court. If payment is not received and you are in California, e-file your case. Turnaround time is quick. If accepted, you can file, pay, and be on your way in the matter of a few hours without ever leaving home.