Though Your Claim Be But Little, It Is Fierce – and may be eligible for attorney fees !


Washington Allston, Hermia and Helena, before 1818, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase through the Smithsonian Institution Collections Acquisition Program and made possible by Ralph Cross Johnson, the Catherine Walden Myer Fund, and the National Institute.

Have a situation you think is not worth the cost of hiring an attorney?

You may be surprised to find attorney fees are available.


I’m embarrassed to admit that several times throughout my time in school I did not pursue legal action because I was broke, even though I likely should have had would have won attorneys fees after prevailing:

In high school my employer took any discrepancies in the shop till out of our tips. In college I was hit by an uninsured motorist while riding my bicycle. Even in law school I had a landlord argue that I needed to pay through the end of the following month after giving my 30 days notice on the 9th.

All of these examples have in common the fact that A) I did not pursue legal action and B) I could have found an attorney for the dispute at little to no cost to myself.

Many states have small claims statutes that allow for small breach of contract, landlord-tenant, and negligence lawsuits to award attorney fees to the prevailing party. I like to call these laws David v. Goliath statutes. For those who cannot afford the immense costs of attorney hourly rates, or worry about going up against someone in a greater financial position, these statutes are a godsend.

In Oregon, the party who prevails in the following small claims cases can also win attorney fees:

  • Certain Wage and Hour Disputes – ORS 652
    • Issues involving unauthorized deductions, unpaid wages, unpaid overtime, and withheld final paychecks
  • Small Negligence Claims – ORS 20.082
    • Accidents involving uninsured motorists, slip and falls, and products liability
  • Small Contract Claims – ORS 20.082
    • Claims for breach of contract, unpaid invoices, failure to fulfill a contract


… and these are just a few of the categories! There are also attorney fees statutes in Oregon for landlord-tenant disputes and certain domestic disputes.

Next time you have an issue, consider reaching out for a consultation and an attorney should explain your options.

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