Small Claims And Litigation: What You Need To Know

When business is going well, it is easy to sit back, relax and enjoy the profits. As with any venture, however, it is inevitable that you will be required to take the rough with the smooth. No matter the situation, not being paid costs owed to you is frustrating, and it can be hard to know who is the best person to turn to. Can you sort the problem yourself, or do you need the services of Oregon Process Servers? Is the cost worth pursuing to small claims, or are you better off simply writing off the loss? To help you out, we have put together a guide to the areas of litigation and small claims. Remember, it is always worth seeking professional legal advice if you are confused.

Before You Proceed

Before pursuing legal action or taking another party to court, most states advise you to attempt to settle the dispute out of court wherever possible. They may also require you to sign an Affidavit which states that you have made every genuine effort to collect the claim before it has reached this point.

Contact The County Clerk

If you decide to pursue court action, you will need to make contact with the county clerk working in the small claims court district which is the closest to the business or residence of the person you are suing. The exception is if the defendant has no contact at all with your state. In this case, you may be able to sue in the state the contract was signed.

Complete The Paperwork

You will need to fill out a ‘Statement of Claim’ at the clerk’s office, along with the fee—usually between $15 and $100. This form will include the nature of the claim, the amount you are suing for, and any documentary evidence. This paperwork must then be sent to the defendant.

Wait For A Response

The defendant has twenty days in which to file an answer to your claim, or thirty days if they reside out of state. There are several outcomes in this step. You may receive the money you are owed, and you can then tell you court you wish the case to be dismissed. Otherwise, the defendant may not respond, requiring you to file a notice of default.

This means that you automatically win through the court granting you default judgment, and you are entitled to collect any outstanding money owed. The third option is that the person you are suing files a counterclaim. You must respond in twenty days or risk having the case dismissed.


In most states, you and the defendant will attend a pretrial hearing. Here, the claim may be settled, or the judge can order mediation or allow the claim to proceed. If the case goes to small claims court, both sides will have a chance to tell their story under oath. You should have evidence to back up your side and stay calm, clear and truthful.


The judge will then issue a verdict, or ask for more time to consider the case. If you are successful, you will be entitled to collect the money. The court cannot do this for you.


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