Washington Small Claims Forms - Washington Small Claim

Washington Small Claims Court FAQ Washington Small Claims Courts

Who hears the claims in small claims court?

In small claims court, the trial is an informal hearing before a judge. There is no jury and the plaintiff presents his or her evidence and witnesses. The defendant is also responsible for presenting his or her witnesses. After hearing both sides of the dispute, the judge will render a verdict based on the law and the facts presented.

Who may file a claim in small claims court?  An individual, partnership or corporation (or LLC) may file a claim against another individual(s), partnership or corporation (LLC) in small claims court, if jurisdiction exists to hear the claim, if the amount of the claim does not exceed the statutory limits.

What must I do before I file a claim?  Before you file a claim, get the facts straight so you can complete the forms correctly and answer any questions court personnel may need to know. Be sure to obtain the correct legal name of the defendant, correct address and place/address of employment. If the defendant is a corporation or LLC you would use the legal corporate or LLC name as the defendant. 

How do I file a claim?  The plaintiff or the plaintiff's attorney should go to the small claims division of the district court in the particular county where the person or business to be sued has an office or is domiciled and file a Statement of  Claim Form. The plaintiff is responsible for furnishing the court with the correct and complete address of the defendant. The clerk will assign the plaintiff a case number and this number must be used whenever contacting the court concerning the particular case. A filing fee is required at the time the claim is filed. If the plaintiff cannot afford to prepay the fee at the time of the filing, he or she can submit an Affidavit of Substantial Hardship and request that the judge delay the payment. 

Who serves the defendant with summons or process and how is the defendant served?  The clerk of the court will issue a summons ordering the defendant to appear in court. The summons and the complaint must be served on the defendant. The summons and the complaint may be served by certified or registered mail. If the court provides this service, there may be an additional fee. If the defendant cannot be served using these methods, the precinct constable or any registered private process server will serve the summons and complaint for a fee. 

How are hearings scheduled? The clerk of the court will provide you with the procedure to set the case for trial or hearing at the time you file your claim. 

May I subpoena witnesses? If witnesses are required, but unwilling to attend the hearing unless they are subpoenaed, you may obtain a subpoena issued by the court clerk for service on the witness. The subpoena is an order for the witness to appear at the hearing to testify. Some employer may require that an employee be subpoenaed in order to be excused from work. 

What are the trial procedures? The trial procedure is generally more informal than other courts. The case will usually be called in open court and you will respond that you are present and ready to proceed. You will then be advised when to present your claim. Be prepared to present your claim in your own words. Be prepared to question witnesses if witnesses are needed. 

What happens if the defendant does not appear at trial?  If the defendant does not appear at trial, a default judgment will be entered in the plaintiff's favor for the amount of the claim or other relief. After judgment is obtained and the appeal time has expired, the plaintiff may seek to collect the judgment by acceptable means of collection. 

What are the common forms used in small claims court?  Common forms used in small claims court are:

  • Claim Statement/Complaint
  • Summons
  • Return of Summons
  • Answer
  • Subpoena
  • Abstract of Judgment

What Is a Small Claims Court?

A small claims court is a special court where people can resolve small disputes easily and quickly without having to hire a lawyer. It is designed to handle cases involving lower amounts of money, typically a few thousand dollars or fewer. In Washington, the small claims court is also known as the District Court. It is made for average people who need a simple and affordable way to address their disagreements, such as issues with landlords, merchants, neighbors, or employers. This court provides an accessible and user-friendly avenue for individuals to have their disputes heard and settled fairly. In small claims court, people can present their case, provide evidence, call witnesses, and get a decision from a judge, all within a shorter time frame and lower cost compared to other types of courts.


Why File a Small Claims Case?

Filing a small claims case in Washington can be a good option if you have a dispute with someone and want to resolve it without expensive lawyer fees. In simple terms, small claims court is designed for everyday people who have straightforward legal issues, like problems with a neighbor, unpaid loans, or property damage. By taking your case to small claims court, you can present your case to a judge and have a fair chance of getting a resolution. It's a simple and affordable way to seek justice and protect your rights in Washington state.


Small Claims Court Limits for Each State

Small claims court is a legal venue where individuals can resolve disputes involving small amounts of money without the need for expensive lawyers or complex legal procedures. Each state in the United States has its own specific limits on the amount of money that can be claimed in small claims court, as well as the maximum amount you can sue for. These limits vary from state to state, with some states allowing claims up to $10,000, while others have higher or lower limits. In Washington state, the limit for small claims court is currently set at $5,000, which means that disputes involving amounts equal to or below this limit can be taken to small claims court for resolution.


Small Claims Demand Letter Example

In Washington, if you find yourself in a dispute with someone, and you believe you are owed money, you may want to consider sending a small claims demand letter. This is a simple letter that explains your position and demands payment or a resolution to the matter. The purpose of this letter is to communicate your intent to take the matter to small claims court if the issue is not resolved. By sending a demand letter, you are giving the other party one last opportunity to settle the dispute amicably before pursuing legal action. It is important to use clear and concise language in the letter, making sure to include all relevant details and documents to support your claim.


Filing a Small Claims Case in 5 Steps

Filing a small claims case in Washington can be done in five easy steps. First, gather all relevant documentation related to your case, such as receipts, bills, and any written agreements. Make sure to organize them properly for easy reference. Second, identify the appropriate small claims court in your jurisdiction by contacting the courthouse or checking their website. Third, complete the necessary forms to initiate your case. These forms can usually be obtained from the courthouse or downloaded from their website. Fill them out thoroughly and neatly. Fourth, file the forms with the court clerk, ensuring you have enough copies to provide to the other party and keep for yourself. Finally, pay the required filing fee, which may vary depending on your case, and be prepared to wait for a court hearing date to be assigned.