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Small Claims Court

Who Can Sue And Be Sued?

Any individual, business, partnership, or corporation (with a couple of exceptions) may bring a small claims suit for recovery of money only for an amount up to $5,000.  In general, the claim must be filed in the county of the defendant's residence. Exceptions and specific rules can be found at RCW 3.66.040. The state of Washington may not be sued in Small Claims Court.  Attorneys and paralegals are excluded from appearing or participating with the plaintiff or defendant in a small claims suit unless the judge grants permission.

How Much Does It Cost?

You must pay the court clerk a filing fee at the time the suit is filed.  The filing fee ranges between $10 to $25 depending on whether the county you file the lawsuit in supports a dispute resolution center. Douglas County District Court’s filing fee is $24.  You may have some additional fees payable to the sheriff or process server to have the Notice of Small Claims served on the defendant.  As an alternative, you may serve notice on the defendant by registered or certified, return receipt mailing.  If you win your case, you are entitled to recover your costs of filing and service fees.

How Do I Get Started?

First you will prepare a Notice of Small Claim form that is provided by the clerk.  You are required to sign the Notice in the presence of the clerk, unless otherwise instructed by the court.  On the Notice form a hearing date, trial date, or response date will be entered by the clerk.  It is the plaintiff's responsibility to accurately identify the defendant, provide a proper address and, if possible, provide a phone number.