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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I am trying to file a small claim in the State. Its gov.

Customer Question

I am trying to file a small claim in the Washington State. Its gov. website does not explain very clearly how to do it. Do I need to file it in person in my county, or in the defendent's county? Is it possible that I can do it Online? Please don't just
throw me the website. I have looked through it, and still quite confusing. If any expert could give me more details, and step by step procedure, that would be great. Thanks!
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

If you have already gone to the Court's website that will give you the general overview.

To physically file the document, you need to go to the courthouse in the County where the action can take place. (This is based on "personal jurisdiction" over the defendant). This can be established as follows:

  • The County where the defendant lives (always appropriate - and usually the best option)
  • The County where the contract was to be performed, or where the contract was entered into (breach of contract)
  • The County where the injury occurred (for tort damages)
  • The County where the parties have agreed for jurisdiction to be (in contract cases where this is included).

Take at least 3 copies of your summons and complaint, and the filing fee.

Once you get your complaint filed hire a process server to serve the summons and complaint on the defendant. (Any third party can do this, but hire a process server, they don't charge very much and they will get it done properly the first time, plus, if you are lucky enough to get a "default judgment" against the other person (they simply don't show up), you will want an ironclad proof of service). Your local bar association can give you referrals to process servers.

For additional pointers and tips, I do recommend visiting your local law library. (I don't know which county you are in, but some of the larger counties have excellent libraries, but even the smaller counties will all have sufficient resources for a small claims case (and the school law libraries at Gonzaga UW and Seattle are sometimes open to the public).

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi William,Thanks for your answer. I am just too busy to get back to you. I will certainly rate your service. One more thing, is a process server only delivers the sommon for me, or he also does prepare the paper work as well? Would sending a certified mail of the sommon good enough? This is just a small claims, money involve is only about $1500. I just don't want to spend more money on the claim than what I can get back.Thanks!
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

A process server will only deliver the paperwork - they will not prepare it for you (they usually will prepare the "proof of service").

Washington does permit service of small claims suits by Certified Mail, but I don't recommend using this method because if the defendant fails to show up and you get a "default judgment" (meaning the court grants you a judgment for the full amount you are asking for without having to go to trial) you run a risk of having your successful "default judgment" attacked by the defendant later. Having a proof of service from a process server reduces (not eliminates) this risk.

Here is another helpful publication that may assist you with your matter:

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Excellent! Thanks William!

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