7 Things You Need to Know About Filing a Civil Lawsuit in the State of Washington

Civil lawsuit in the State of Washington.

Do you need to file a civil lawsuit in the state of Washington? You might need to if you want to sue your neighbor for a matter you can’t settle in person. Or maybe you w want to take someone to court for breach of contract? If you feel you’ve been harmed because a business or person did something wrong, you may want to file a civil lawsuit.

What Is and Isn’t a Civil Lawsuit?

According to Harvard Law School, civil litigation is a dispute between two or more parties who seek money damages or a specific outcome that does not deal with criminal sanctions. These types of cases are commonly referred to as civil lawsuits. Divorce proceedings and probate actions are also considered civil issues.

Civil lawsuits do not include probate or bankruptcy-related issues. Criminal issues are also not included in a civil case.

Examples of Civil Lawsuits

Just about everything not mentioned in the section directly above can be considered a civil issue. That includes issues involving contract and wage disputes, personal injury, problems with neighbors such encroaching on another’s property or nuisance problems.


You may choose to represent yourself in a civil lawsuit. If you choose to do so, you are known as a pro se litigant. If you choose to start the action against a party, you are known as the petitioner, plaintiff or moving party, according to Access Washington per the Washington State Administration Office of the Court. The person/party you sue is known as the defendant or respondent.

Do It Yourself Civil Lawsuit

You may choose to save legal fees by filing a civil lawsuit on your own. The first step requires downloading and filling in the proper, court-approved paperwork, according to Access Washington. We offer an instant download of a do-it-yourself Civil Lawsuit kit that contains everything you need to initiate and pursue a case/claim. The kit includes the forms for filing the suit as well as serving/notifying the defendant/respondent.

Where To File A Civil Lawsuit

Knowing where to file a civil lawsuit in the state of Washington can be confusing. Filing a civil lawsuit depends on the type of issue or the amount of money in dispute. For instance, you can file a civil complaint in a U.S. District Court anywhere in Washington state as long as the disputed amount is at least $4,000 is no more than $75,000 on issues related to torts, contracts and real property, according to the Court Statistics Project, a joint project of the National Center for State Courts and the Conference of State Court Administrators. If your civil lawsuit is less than $4,000, it could be filed in the Small Claims Department of a District Court. Superior Court civil cases have no minimum or maximum amounts that can be sued for. To learn which courts handle which types of cases, click here to visit the Washington Courts website.

Serving the Defendant/Respondent

You must also fill out a Summons or Complaint form and serve it to the party you’re suing. According to Access Washington, you must use a third party to serve the defendant with the lawsuit. You must use law enforcement, civil process or an adult other than yourself, says Access Washington.

Hiring a Litigation Attorney

Some people pursue civil lawsuits by hiring an attorney to handle their case. This type of attorney is known as a trial attorney or a litigator. These attorneys can provide trial and/or mediation services. Before you hire an attorney to handle your case, read our blog post about the questions to ask when hiring a law firm. A litigating attorney interviews you, writes court documents, handles document requests, preps and files paperwork with the court, negotiates and argues your case at a trial, if necessary. To find a Washington state attorney who specializes in Mediation, click here. To find attorneys who specialize in specific areas of law, click here.

Related: Going to trial? Learn proper court etiquette by reading our blog post, Making a Court Appearance: 7 Things You Need to Know Before Stepping Into the Courtroom.

This blog post is not offered as specific advice, which may only be provided by an attorney based upon each individual situation. To find an attorney, click here to visit our attorney referral page

Comments are closed.