Small Claims
Small Claims Court is perfect for folks who need to recover property or money worth $10,000 or less

Yes, filing a lawsuit can eat up quite a bit of money and time; and in the end, might not be worth your while. 

In Oregon, if your claim is $10,000 or less, you may want to consider filing your claim in either the Small Claims court or as a Small Claim & Notice of Small Claim in the civil division of the Circuit Court. Your filing fee will be much less ($57-$102 vs. upwards of $500) and the length of time to trial is also compressed. But you are not allowed to bring an attorney with you to court.

If someone owes you money or property, you must first make a solid attempt at collecting that on your own. Be sure to document everything you do and collect all of that evidence into one place where you can organize it for trial. You’ll want to gather things like:

  • Contracts or promissory notes
  • Phone records (to show when and how often you spoke with your opposing party)
  • Written correspondence (including text messages, emails, and actual letters)
  • Receipts, bills, or invoices
  • Cancelled checks
  • Building inspection reports
  • Relevant photographs or videos 
  • Insurance or medical claims
  • Police reports

When you’re ready to file your claim, you can use the Oregon Court’s iForm system, or you can have Solid Serve Legal assist you. We simply fill out and file the paperwork on your behalf and at your direction.

You will need to know:

  • Your opposing party’s last known address and phone number
  • A short description (about 1200 words) of your good faith efforts to collect this debt, thus far.

Once the claim is filed with the court, a case number will be assigned and you will need to get the documents properly served on your defendant(s). Again, Solid Serve Legal can help accomplish this task, too. 

When your defendant has been served, they will have 14 days to file a response with the court. Their options are: 

1. Pay the claim directly to you.

2. Deny the claim and demand a hearing or a jury trial.*

3. File a counterclaim against you.

*If they select a jury trial, you will need to re-file your claim with the Circuit Court as a regular lawsuit and both parties will have to pay much more to see the process through.

If the defendant’s response denies the claim or requests a hearing, the Court will schedule mediation for everyone first. If an agreement cannot be reached, the Court will schedule a trial at which time both sides present their evidence. Small Claims court decisions are final and not subject to appeal.

If the defendant fails to respond at all, you would then file a Motion for Default Judgment for the amount claimed plus filing fees, service costs, and a prevailing party fee. When the Court issues the Judgment in your favor, you would then send a final demand letter to your defendant along with a copy of the Judgment. If they fail to pay the Judgment, you may then move forward with garnishing wages and/or bank accounts. 

Should you need a Writ of Garnishment, Solid Serve Legal can also assist you with preparing and serving that paperwork. For more information, check the Court’s instructions here.

If you need help filing a lien or collecting directly from your opposing party, you will need a licensed collection agent and we can make a great referal.