If you have a contract or other civil dispute in Oregon that requires you to sue someone, first consider whether Small Claims Court is a good option for you depending on the nature of your dispute and the amount of damages involved in your case. If you are sued in Small Claims Court, you should also understand how this unique process works to protect yourself.
In Oregon, a plaintiff may file a Small Claims case in their local County Circuit Court if monetary damages do not exceed $10,000.00. Otherwise, the case will need to go through the more traditional litigation path in the main Circuit Court. There are some important issues to consider when contemplating prosecuting or defending a lawsuit in Small Claims Court:
- You cannot be represented by an attorney in Small Claims Court. This may or may not be a good option for you depending on your case, its complexity, and your comfort level with the related legalities and processes.
- Your costs and the time it takes to resolve your case may be less and quicker in Small Claims Court. However, this is not always the case. A defendant can remove a Small Claims case from that Court to the Circuit Court. This is often done when a defendant wants to be represented by an attorney, have a jury hear a case, or as a tactical maneuver to require a plaintiff to file a timely Complaint in the Circuit Court after removal or face the dismissal of their case.
Although Small Claims Court has many advantages for some people, there are procedures and processes that are important to fully understand before you sue someone or if you are sued. We recommend you consider consulting with an experienced litigator to evaluate your best litigation option.
You can find information on Procedures and Instructions in Small Claims Court in Washington Country here: http://www.courts.oregon.gov/Washington/docs/civil/SmallClaims-ProceduresandInstructions.pdf