Small Claims Court in King County

In King County, WA small claims cases are typically filed in the Small Claim Court. King County has one courthouse that handles small claims, serving different jurisdictions.

Squabble is here to assist you in navigating the small claims court system and filing a claim with ease. We recognize that not everyone is a legal expert, and our goal is to simplify the process for you. This guide will answer your questions about filing claims in the King Court System.

File a Small Claim

Small Claims Courts in the King County, State of Washington are designed to settling legal disputes up to $10,000 when brought by a person.

Any person, business, partnership, or corporation (with some exceptions) can file a small claims action to recover money. A natural person, meaning an individual, can claim up to $10,000, while the limit for others is $5,000.

Generally, you need to file the claim in the district court of the county where the defendant(s) live. For more details and specific rules, refer to RCW 3.66.040.

Note that you cannot sue the state of Washington in Small Claims Court.

Attorneys and paralegals are not allowed to represent or assist the plaintiff or defendant in small claims cases unless the judge gives permission.

Getting Started

To begin, fill out a Notice of Small Claim form from the district court clerk. This form requires:

  1. Your name and address.
  2. A brief, sworn statement describing your claim, including the amount and date.
  3. The name and address of the defendant, if known.

Sign the Notice in front of the clerk, unless instructed otherwise. The clerk will schedule a hearing, trial, or response date. They can help with forms and general information but cannot offer legal advice. Be aware of time limits for filing actions, which range from one to ten years, depending on the case type.


There is a filing fee of either $35 or $50, depending on whether the county supports a dispute resolution center. You might also need to pay for serving or mailing the Notice to the defendant. If you win, you might recover these costs from the defendant.

Notifying the Defendant

After filing the Notice, it must be served to the defendant by someone other than you, either personally or by mail. The server must be over 18, competent to testify, and not a party to the case, or the sheriff/deputy. If mailed, use registered or certified mail and file the signed return receipt with the court. The defendant must be served at least ten days before the hearing.

Defendants can file a counterclaim by paying a fee, filing the claim, and serving you with notice.

Settling Before the Hearing

It's often beneficial to settle before the hearing. If you do, inform the court so the case can be dismissed. If the other party agrees to pay later, request a continuance from the court. If they pay before the new date, ask the court to cancel the hearing. If not, proceed with the case.

Preparing for Trial

Whether you are the plaintiff or defendant, preparation is key. Gather all relevant documents (e.g., papers, photos, receipts, estimates, checks). Write down the facts in order to organize your thoughts and present your case clearly. It’s a good idea to attend a small claims court session beforehand to understand the process.

The Hearing

  • On the hearing day, go to the assigned courtroom on time. When called, approach the counsel table, and the judge will swear in all parties and witnesses.
  • Some courts require mediation. If you reach an agreement, request a "Judgment" from the court. Sample forms are available on the State Courts website (
  • During the hearing, stay calm and polite. The judge will hear the plaintiff first, then the defendant. Stick to the facts and be concise. Answer the judge’s questions honestly. Good manners and a calm demeanor help the process run smoothly and make a positive impression.

After the Judge Makes a Decision

After both sides present their cases, the judge usually announces the decision right away and enters a judgment based on that decision.

Someone Doesn’t Show Up

  • Defendant doesn’t show up: If the defendant doesn’t appear, the plaintiff wins by default and is awarded the claim amount plus costs, as long as proof of service is provided.
  • Plaintiff doesn’t show up: If the plaintiff doesn’t appear, the claim is dismissed. However, the plaintiff can generally restart the case if they provide a good reason for missing the hearing.

After the Judgment

  • Once the judge makes a decision, the court issues a judgment. If the plaintiff wins, the judgment will order the defendant to pay the claim amount, plus any costs and interest. The clerk will enter this judgment into the court records and provide a certified copy to the winning party at no additional cost.

  • However, getting a judgment doesn't guarantee payment. The court does not collect the money for you. If the defendant doesn’t pay immediately, the court might set up a payment plan. If the defendant still doesn’t pay, the judgment amount can be increased to cover collection costs.

  • The winning party can enforce the judgment through collections, such as wage garnishment or seizing bank accounts or personal property. Since court clerks can’t give legal advice, you might need help from an attorney or collection agency, with fees potentially covered by the debtor.

If You Lose

You can appeal the judgment unless:

  • The original claim was less than $250.
  • You brought a claim or counterclaim and the amount was $1,000 or less.


  1. File a Notice of Appeal with the district court within 30 days.
  2. Serve a copy of the Notice on the other parties.
  3. Pay a $20 transcript fee to the district court.
  4. Deposit a $230 superior court filing fee and a $40 appeal processing fee with the district court.
  5. Post a bond worth twice the judgment amount or twice the amount in controversy, whichever is greater.

Once the appeal and bond are transferred to superior court, you can request the superior court to suspend the district court judgment until after the appeal is heard. The district court will send the court record to the superior court within 14 days of filing the Notice of Appeal, and all further proceedings will occur in the superior court.

Courthouse Location:

King County District Court

516 Third Avenue, Room E-327
Seattle, WA 98104
(206) 477-1400


  • Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., except court holiday

Let Squabble Help You With Your Small Claim at King County

Don't allow the intricacies of the legal system to discourage you from pursuing justice and compensation for your claim. With Squabble, you have a dedicated partner to streamline the process and guide you toward resolution. Whether you're contemplating filing a claim at King County small claims court, Squabble is here to support you at every stage. Reach out to us today to commence your journey toward justice and compensation. Get started today and become one of the 95% of our customers who won or settled their case.

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