Lee & Lee PS Law Talk

Q: What are the different ways of serving the Small Claims Notice on the other party? A: As I mentioned in the previous article, you can ask the King County Sheriff’s Office to serve the Notice.  They can be reached at 206-296-3800.  You can also call one of the many professional process server agencies/companies in Washington.  There will of course be fees associated with either scenario.  But remember, if you win, you can recover these costs.  Additionally, any person of legal age (18) who is NOT connected with the case as a witness or as a party may serve the Notice on the defendant.  Finally, you can also mail the Notice by registered or certified mail with a return receipt requested.  With mail service, however, you must file the postal receipt bearing the DEFENDANT’s signature with the court.  So, if the defendant’s friend or relative signed the receipt, this will not be proper service.

Lee & Lee PS Law Talk (Nelson Lee and Bethany Mito)

Lee & Lee PS Law Talk
Q:
What are the different ways of serving the Small Claims Notice on the other party?

A: As I mentioned in the previous article, you can ask the King County Sheriff’s Office to serve the Notice.  They can be reached at 206-296-3800.  You can also call one of the many professional process server agencies/companies in Washington.  There will of course be fees associated with either scenario.  But remember, if you win, you can recover these costs.  Additionally, any person of legal age (18) who is NOT connected with the case as a witness or as a party may serve the Notice on the defendant.  Finally, you can also mail the Notice by registered or certified mail with a return receipt requested.  With mail service, however, you must file the postal receipt bearing the DEFENDANT’s signature with the court.  So, if the defendant’s friend or relative signed the receipt, this will not be proper service.


Q: Can I ask my adult relative to serve the notice on the defendant?

A: As long as he/she is 18 years old or older and is neither a party nor witness in the case, yes.  BUT, this is not always advisable.  While it may save you some money, people don’t often respond well to being served with a notice of a lawsuit.  Sometimes, violence can result.  You should keep this in mind when deciding whether to have your relative/friend serve the Notice.  Remember, you, as a party to the lawsuit, CANNOT personally serve your claim form/Notice. 


Q: Do I have to serve the Notice within a certain time period?

A: Yes.  The Notice of Small Claim must be served on the defendant not less than ten (10) days before the first hearing.

After service is completed (except in the case of mail service), the person who served the Notice must sign an affidavit of service.  This must be filed with the court.  An affidavit of service must state in writing the following:

1)The date the Claim form was served;
2)Upon whom it was served;
3)Address where served;
4)The name of the person who did the serving.  The person who does the service must sign an affidavit before a Notary Public

Q: Can I still attempt to negotiate and settle my case even after the filing of the lawsuit?

A: Yes.  You are always encouraged to try to settle your case before trial.  A trained mediator is present the day of your trial and is available to meet with the parties.  If you settle the case before the hearing/trial, you must inform the court so the hearing can be canceled and your case dismissed.  If the party agrees to pay you at a later date, you can ask the court to postpone your hearing/trial.  If the party pays your before the new date, you can ask the court to cancel the hearing.  But if the party doesn’t pay by the time of the new hearing, you are free to proceed to court.  Please note that if you drop your lawsuit, your filing fee and service costs are not returned to you by the court, so be sure to demand them in any settlement agreement.

Q: What shall I do to prepare for my Small Claims trial?

A: Collect all papers, photographs, receipts, estimates, cancelled checks or other documents that you think will help prove your case and your damages.  Make sure they are organized and legible.  You may want to write down the facts of the case in chronological order so that you can present them to the judge in an organized way.  Consider watching a Small Claims calendar so that you know what to expect and experience how the trials are conducted.  Talk to your witnesses before the trial and make sure their testimony is also organized.  Advise them to always tell the truth in court.

Be prepared!  If you present a disorganized or confusing case, you risk losing your claim.

Next topic: “What am I to do if I cannot afford to hire my own attorney? (5)”
A “Readers’ Mailbox” is set for answering any law related questions. lawtalk@seattlechinesetimes.com


Lee & Lee PS Law Talk—Disclaimer—
This article is made available by Lee & Lee, PS and this publisher for educational purposes only.  The intent is to give the reader general information and a general understanding of the law. The article does not provide specific legal advice.  Readers of this article should understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the writers or their publisher.  Furthermore, the article is not a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your jurisdiction.

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