Filing a Civil Lawsuit in Washington State: A Step-by-Step Guide to Legal Action

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How to file a civil lawsuit in washington state?

In Washington State, lawsuits are initiated through the filing and serving of a complaint and summons on each defendant. The filing procedure varies by county; some counties require paper filings while others offer electronic filing.

Some courts provide additional documents, such as a case schedule and/or a cover page, that must be served on each defendant at the time of filing. However, regardless of where the case is lodged, each defendant must be personally served with the filing documents.

Using a professional process server is the simplest method to accomplish this. The complaint must define the plaintiff’s case, detailing the facts that satisfy the elements that entitle the plaintiff to the requested relief. A single case may present the opportunity to demonstrate multiple causes of action. In the complaint, the facts supporting each cause of action must be specified. It is generally unadvisable for a non-attorney to file a complaint without at least having the documents evaluated by an attorney qualified in that area of practice.

A step-by-step process for using the civil court system to right a wrong

At Rush, Hannula, Harkins, & Kyler PLLC, we want our clients to have an accurate understanding of what is involved in a personal injury lawsuit. Defense attorneys and insurance companies frequently use delay tactics to wear down a plaintiff, making the procedure neither fast nor simple. This document serves as a primer for anyone with a cause of action who is contemplating filing a personal injury lawsuit.

Choosing the court in Washington in which to file your personal injury lawsuit

You must ascertain which court has jurisdiction over your case before proceeding. You may file a personal injury claim in the district court in the defendant’s county of residence or the county where your injury occurred. If you choose to represent yourself, you can pick up the necessary forms at the court or obtain them from the court’s website.

If the quantity of your personal injuries is less than $5,000, you can file a claim in small claims court. You cannot file with the small claims court if the defendant is a Washington state entity. Whether you file your lawsuit in district court or small claims court, there is a filing fee. If you retain a process server to deliver the complaint and summons to your defendant, you may incur additional costs.

Washington’s Personal Injury Lawsuit Procedure

Following are the preliminary stages for filing a personal injury lawsuit:

  • File your lawsuit in the appropriate court.
  • Assign an adult to serve all defendants with a summons and a copy of the complaint.
  • The defendants submit a response to the court. The defendants may file a counterclaim alleging you caused them harm.
  • Pretrial issues may be resolved by preliminary orders requested by the parties.
  • Discovery begins, enabling the parties to request information from the other side and respond to interrogatories (questions posed by the other side).
  • The parties depose witnesses, documenting their sworn testimony.
  • The plaintiff must submit a response with the court if the defendants file counterclaims.

After the conclusion of discovery, the parties have a thorough comprehension of the case and can begin settlement negotiations. If negotiations reach a stalemate, the parties may resort to mediation or arbitration. If these alternative dispute resolution methods also fail, the parties may proceed to court.

Who Can Sue And Be Sued?

Any individual, business, partnership or corporation (with a few exceptions) may bring a small claims action only to recover money; a “natural person,” meaning a human being, may file a claim up to $10,000; the limit is $5,000 in all other cases. In general, the claim must be filed in the district court of the county in which the defendant(s) reside. Exceptions and specific rules can be found at RCW 3.66.040.  The State of Washington may not be sued in Small Claims Court.  Unless a judge grants permission, Attorneys and paralegals are excluded from appearing or participating with the plaintiff or defendant in a small claims suit.

 

How Much Does It Cost?

You must pay the court clerk a filing fee at the time the suit is filed.  The filing fee will be either $35 or $50 depending on whether the county in which you file the lawsuit supports a dispute resolution center.  You may have some additional fees payable to the sheriff or process server to have the Notice of Small Claims served on the defendant.  As an alternative, you may serve notice to the defendant by registered or certified return receipt mailing.  If you win your case, you are entitled to recover your costs of filing and service fees.

How Do I Get Started?

Contact your local district court; contact information may be located in your local phone book or at www.courts.wa.gov.  First,First you will prepare a Notice of Small Claim form that is provided by the clerk.  You are required to sign the Notice in the presence of the clerk, unless otherwise instructed by the court.  On the Nform,otice form a hearing date, trial date, or response date will be entered by the clerk.  It is the plaintiff’s responsibility to accurately identify the defendant, providaddress,per address and, if possible, provide a phone number.

What If We Settle?

In most cases, neither party is 100 percent right or wrong.  You are encouraged to try to settle your case before trial.  If you settle the dispute before the hearing, you must inform the court so the hearing can be canceled and your case dismissed.  If the other party agrees to pay at a later date, you may ask the court for a continuance.  If the other party pays before the postponed date, ask the court to cancel the hearing.  If you do not receive your money by the time of the continued hearing, proceed with the case in court.  If you drop the suit, your filing fee and service costs are not returned.

How Do I Collect My Money?

Once the judgment is issued, the clerk will enter it into the civil docket of the court and will provide a certified copy of the judgment to the prevailing party atfor no additional cost. A money judgment in your favor does not necessarily mean that the money will be paid. The Small Claims Court does not collect the judgment for you. If the debtor does not pay right away, the court may order a payment plan. If the losing party fails to pay, the judgment shall be increased by amounts intended to cover the cost of enforcing the judgment.

If no appeal is taken and the judgment is not paid within 30 days or in the time set in a mediation agreement or payment plan, the prevailing party may seek to enforce the judgment through the collections process, which could include garnishing the defendant’s wages or bank accounts;or seeking to obtain personal property of the debtor.

Remember, the clerks cannot give you legal advice, so you may need the assistance of an attorney or collection agency, whose fees may be paid by the debtor.

Can You Appeal A Case If You Lose?

Either party may appeal a judgment when the judge has decided against them. However, no appeal is permitted if the amount originally claimed was less than $250. Also, if a party who brought a claim or counterclaim wants to appeal a judgment, the amount originally claimed must have exceeded $1,000. If a party loses a default judgment, an appeal may be taken under the district court rules for setting aside default judgments.

A party who appeals a judgment is required to follow the procedures set out in chapter 12.36 RCW. The party who wants to appeal must take the following steps within 30 days of the entry of judgment: 1. File a written Notice of Appeal with the district court. 2. Serve a copy of that Notice on the other parties. 3. Pay the district court a $20 transcript fee. 4.

Deposit at the district court the $230 superior court filing fee either in cash, money order or cashier’s check payable to the Clerk of the Superior Court, and pay a $40 appeal preparation processing fee to the district court. 5. Post a cash or surety bond in a sum equal to twice the amount of the judgment and costs or twice the amount in controversy, whichever is greater, at the district court.

When the appeal and bond are transferred to superior court, the appellant (person appealing the decision) may request that the superior court suspend enforcement of the judgment in the district court until after the appeal is heard. Within 14 days of filing the Notice of Appeal, the district court clerk will transmit the court record to the superior court clerk. All further proceedings will be in the superior court.

Conclusion 

Get in touch with the district court in your area; you can find its contact information in the phone book in your area or on the website www.courts.wa.gov. At the outset, you will be responsible for filling out a Notice of Small Claim form that will be supplied to you by the clerk. Unless the court specifically instructs you differently, you need to sign the Notice in front of the clerk before it may be considered valid. Weirdnewsera that you might not find any other platform which gives you all content about health sports business technology and entertainment.

FAQs

What’s a legal cause of action in Washington state?

Washington intentional civil causes of action result from voluntary action intended to injure. The defendant’s state of mind during the activity determines intent.

How do I collect on a civil judgment in Washington?

The clerk will put the judgment into the civil docket and give the winning party a free certified copy. Money judgments are not guaranteed.

What is the Washington state limit for minor claims court?

Washington’s Small Claims Courts are a low-cost, easy-to-use option to resolve legal issues up to $10,000. This FAQ covers everything concerning small claims litigation.

How can I sue the state of Washington?

Washington state claims require certain conditions. Serve a confirmed claim form. Serve the paperwork to the government agency’s authorized agent. A legitimate claim form is needed to sue the government.