How to File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Washington State
Step-by-step process for using the civil court system to make a wrong right
At Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P., we want our clients to have an accurate picture of what a personal injury lawsuit entails. The process is rarely quick and easy; defense counsel and insurance companies often employ delay tactics to wear a plaintiff down. We offer this page as a primer for anyone who has a cause of action and is considering a personal injury lawsuit.
Choosing the Washington court in which to file your personal injury lawsuit
First, you must determine which court has jurisdiction over your case. You may file a personal injury claim in the district court in the county where the defendant resides or where your injury occurred. If you choose to file without the assistance of an attorney, you can pick up the forms you need at the court or download them from the court website.
If your personal injuries amount to less than $5,000, you can file with small claims court. You may not file with small claims court if the defendant is an entity of the state of Washington. Whether you choose district court or small claims court, there is a fee for filing your lawsuit. You may incur additional expenses if you retain a process server to serve the complaint and summons to your defendant.
The personal injury lawsuit process in Washington
The preliminary steps for filing your personal injury lawsuit are as follows:
- File your complaint in the proper court.
- Assign an adult to serve a summons and copy of the complaint on all defendants.
- The defendants answer by filing with the court. Defendants may present a counterclaim alleging that you caused damages to them.
- Parties may request preliminary orders to resolve pretrial issues.
- Discovery begins, allowing the parties to request information from the opposing side and provide answers to questions (interrogatories) the other side poses.
- Parties depose witnesses, getting their sworn testimony on record.
- If the defendants file counterclaims, the plaintiff must file an answer with the court
Once discovery concludes, the parties have a fair understanding of the case, and settlement negotiations can begin. If negotiations stall, the parties can try mediation or arbitration. If these alternative forms of dispute resolution also fail, the parties may proceed to trial.
The clock is ticking; contact Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. today!
There’s truth to the old legal adage that he who sits on his rights loses them. Act today to assert your right to full, fair compensation for your injuries. Call Rush, Hannula, Harkins & Kyler, L.L.P. at 253.250.4516 or contact our Tacoma office online to arrange your free consultation.