Information about Small Claims
This brochure is intended to be a general statement of small claims procedure. For more detailed information, please consult applicable provisions of the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) Chapters 3.66, 4.16, 4.28, 12.40, 59.18, and applicable provisions in the Civil Rules for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction, Rule 5 (CRLJ 5). RCWs and court rules can be found at libraries and the following websites: www.leg.wa.gov (for RCWs) and www.courts.wa.gov (for court rules). Court contact information can be found at www.courts.wa.gov. Small claim forms are located on the right hand pane of this page.
Who Can Sue And Be Sued?
Any individual may bring a small claims suit for recovery of money only for an amount up to $10,000. Petitioner must be a "natural person" (i.e. a human individual). In all other cases, the jurisdictional amount is still $5,000. Only the person who is owed the money can file the small claim case. You cannot assign a small claim to someone to file in the court. In general, the claim must be filed in the district court of the county in which the defendant(s) reside. 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 for King County District Court is $50. You may have some additional fees payable to the sheriff or process server to have the Notice of Small Claim served on the defendant. Alternatively, you may serve notice on the defendant by registered or certified mail, return receipt mailing. (Information regarding service can be found on the Small Claim Initiation/Service sheet provided by the court). If you win your case, you are entitled to recover the filing fee and the cost of service as allowed by statute.
How Long Do I Have To File My Case?
Time limits range from one (1) to ten (10) years. See Chapter 4.16 RCW to determine which time limit applies to your type of case.
Small Claims Packets