California Small Claims/Landlord question:

My landlord has withheld my security deposit upon move out, and claims I owe additional charges for cleaning the apartment. I've disputed these and plan to sue in Small Claims to get the deposit back. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, I won't be able to show up in person for court until next year (Statute of Limitations is 4 years).

If I pay the amount my landlord claims is owed ($350), will I still be able to sue for the security deposit later? I'd like to avoid this debt being sent to collections and having my credit score harmed, and possibly harming my ability to rent a new apartment in the future.

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