Small Claims

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Information effective: July 2019

The Small Claims procedures of the District Court allow a person or business with a legal dispute to sue without hiring an attorney. There are no juries, and attorneys are not allowed to represent either party unless permission is granted by a Judge. Small Claims Court only handles claims for an amount up to $10,000, and Judgments are for monetary amounts only. In general, the claim must be filed in the District Court of the county in which the defendant(s) resides.

The clerks may assist with procedure but are not allowed to give legal advice or predict how the Judge might rule in a given situation.

  • The filing fee for Small Claims is $35.00
  • Notice of Claim forms are available at the District Court Office. State-approved forms may also be found on the Washington Courts website.
  • Please refer to the Small Claims Brochure for more information.

For quick reference, the following additional topics are covered below:

  • Introduction to Small Claims
  • Filing a Claim
  • Trial Setting
  • Default Judgment
  • Filing a Counterclaim

 

Introduction to Small Claims

In Small Claims, the jurisdictional amount involved must be $10,000 or less.  A Plaintiff requesting damages in excess of this amount may still file a small claim, but by doing so, waives the right to recover anything in excess of the jurisdictional amount.

  • At the time of filing, the Plaintiff must pay a filing fee of $35.00, which is non-refundable.
  • If you win your case, you are entitled to a Judgment. Once the Judgment is paid in full, a Satisfaction must be filed with the Court.

 

Filing a Claim

  • A Notice of Small Claim form is provided by the Court. You are required to sign the Notice in the presence of the clerk, unless otherwise instructed by the Court.
  • At the time of filing, the Plaintiff must pay a filing fee of $35.00, which is non-refundable.
  • The Defendant must be a resident of Skamania County, or if the Defendant is a business, it must be located in Skamania County.
  • The Plaintiff should bring extra copies of any documentation that will be filed with the claim, in order to have copies for: Court, service, and Plaintiff. It is the responsibility of the Plaintiff to accurately identify the Defendant (either as an individual, a corporation, or as one doing business under an assumed name) and provide contact information.
  • The Plaintiff is furnished with a copy of the claim form for his or her records and given a copy of the claim form to be served upon the Defendant.
  • The Defendant must be served in the State of Washington.
  • For service procedures and options, please refer to the brochure above.

 

Trial Setting

The clerk will indicate the date and time the case will be set for trial on the Notice of Small Claims after filing. Refer to the brochure above for more information regarding trial procedures and settlement prior to hearing.

 

Default Judgment

If the Plaintiff can provide proof of service and the Defendant fails to appear at the hearing, the Court may enter a Default Judgment against the Defendant on the Plaintiff's written request.

 

Filing a Counterclaim

The Defendant may counterclaim against the Plaintiff for an amount up to $10,000. Forms are available at the District Court counter. The fee for the counterclaim is $35.00.

 

For additional information, please refer to the brochure.