Courthouse in Whatcom, WA
Last updated at 2022-04-20T23:43:06.681Z
311 Grand Avenue, Suite 401, Bellingham WA 98225
Up to $100
Clerk phone number
311 Grand Avenue, Suite 401, Bellingham WA 98225
Average days to process
2-10 business days
Thinking about going to Bellingham Small Claims Court? Read on to learn about:
Note: Courts can operate at a Bellingham city level or at a Whatcom County level, and these could be the same.
The most popular courthouse in Bellingham for people looking to file lawsuits online is . Like many courthouses, has a small claims division which hears cases that fall below the state-wide small claims limit. Continue reading to learn about the Washington small claims limit and why it's the best option for people looking to resolve a dispute without a lawyer.
The best part of filing in the small claims court division is that you don't need a lawyer to file or represent you in the hearing. This can save you a lot of money, which is good if the amount you're suing for isn't that high.
In 2022, as an example, an average lawyer in Florida (a low cost of living state with lots of lawyers) charged $300 per hour. Preparing a case for trial can easily take a lawyer 10+ hours, so your lawyer's costs alone would be in the thousands of dollars.
Small Claims Court lets you pay a low fee , and present your case to the judge (a real judge with the power to issue rulings ) without needing to pay a lawyer. You'll represent yourself in court , but if you can do that, you could win your case while saving a lot of money and time.
These courts date back to a movement from the 1960s where every day people worked to increase their access to the court system. The trials that happen in small claims courts are real and enforceable by the government and by the police, all constitutional rights apply, and the judges usually do rotations from their civil court duties.
Keep reading to see how you can benefit from this light weight process.
The most common types of cases heard in small claims court include:
Contract Disputes: These cases are about situations where there was some kind of agreement between two people to pay a certain amount, or provide some kind of services, and that agreement wasn't honored. This includes things like broken leases, lemon used cars, canceled vacation plans, damaged goods, etc.
Insurance company disputes: often people try to use their insurance to pay for a loss, but the insurance company denies their claim. In these cases, suing the company can offer a second chance to get your money.
Car accidents: People will sue for a lot of the costs associated with being in a car accident. This could include the cost to get medicine or a doctor's car, damage to their car, or damage to some other property of theirs.
Injuries or Medical Bills: In general, small claims courts don't award "pain and suffering" but they can award you money to cover money you had to spend to cure an injury or illness that was caused by someone else. Suing that other person to force them to pay is one way to try to make yourself whole again.
To get a judge to review your case in Bellingham, you must file a case in the Bellingham courthouse. This means you have to fill out the paperwork, file it with the clerk of the court, serve the defendant, and show up to your court hearing.
You can definitely do all of this yourself, but most people find it worthwhile to pay a company to handle this process for them. You can pay a lawyer, however lawyers usually don't handle small claims cases because they aren't allowed to represent you in court (only for small claims). Additionally, the cost of the lawyer's time might not be worth it if your dispute is small enough to be under the limti (see below).
The limit for small claims court varies by state. In Washington the dollar limit for small claims court is $10,000 or less. If you are claiming more money than this limit, you must file a limited civil or unlimited civil case with the help of an attorney. If you are filing this much or less, you can file it in civil court (with the help of an attorney) or in small claims court.
The limits are almost always set at a state level so the limit in Bellingham is also $10,000. There are rare exceptions to this rule, for instance, in large cities. Since these limits change frequently based on the law, you can check for yourself by talking to an attorney, calling the court clerk (use the phone number, email address, or website at the top of this page), or going to the court in person and asking there.
It is common to see cases claiming as little as $1,000 to as much as $10,000, in some states state. An average small claims case in Bellingham could be for $2,500 to $3,750.
For small claims, the costs of filing in court can be as low as $35 in California if you prepare your paperwork yourself and have a friend serve the defendant for free, or as high as $300 + the cost of hiring a professional process server. Unfortunately, it's hard to give an exact estimate because each form can cost more to file, and the exact needs of a case vary so much. Your best bet is to contact the court, or hire a professional who can look up the fees for all the forms you need for your case.
To file larger lawsuits, the filing fee rises (around $500 to file the initial documents), but in these cases, it's important to hire a licensed attorney to represent you. Their fee will cost a lot more than the court fees, and can range from $200 to $1000 an hour, depending on how complex your case is.
Most people feel intimidated by the court and having to appear in front of a judge. But in reality, the judge isn't trying to make you look bad. Judges see thousands of cases every year, and they're very efficient about making decisions accurately and efficiently.
In a hearing, the judge will call you when it's your time to talk. The judge will want you to present the dispute in a simple, and short manner. This ensures he or she is able to make the right decision quickly.
It can help show fairness if you can explain why the other person thinks they're right, and what they're missing about the dispute. This shows you are reasonable and have considered their position, but are still not able to resolve the dispute.
Making the decision to go to court can be a tough one, particularly if it's your first time. There are a lot of topics to understand, laws to research, and the details can get overwhelming. But don't worry - you're in good company.
Based on an analysis we did of thousands of small claims courthouses across the country, 2.7 million Americans go to small claims court each year. So just keep in mind, the court is designed for you to bring your case and get the justice you deserve.
Check out one of the articles below to learn more about the small claims process, how you can get started, and how Dispute or any other professional company can help.
Generally, evidence are presented physically at the hearing in small claims suits. However, if you have a virtual hearing, courts will often require you to submit your evidence to court and to the defendant before your hearing date. Learn how to prepare and submit your evidence to court with this article.
· 5 min read