Get Courtside Seats to the Washington State Civil Litigation Process

The United States is a litigious society, and as a business owner—regardless of what type of business you are running—the chances are that eventually you will find yourself in a difficult situation where the courts need to be involved. Whether this means you are being sued by another party, or you need to sue someone else, it is a good idea to have at least a basic understanding of what you’ll be going through. If you need to go through the Washington state civil litigation process, make sure you contact APH Law to get effective representation. In this blog we talk about the general, bird’s eye view of the process:

Determining the Type of Court

If you are filing a lawsuit against another party, you’ll need to determine which court it needs to go through. This is largely determined by the type of case, what type of damages are sought, and more. Small claims court, for example, is used for small lawsuits that have a relatively low monetary value. If you are being sued, the specific court where your case will be heard will have already been determined. Let us help you with this process from the very beginning.

Complaint and Summons

The complaint is the document that begins the case and is brought by the plaintiff. The complaint lists all the facts associated with the case, including any allegations and claims against the defendant. The complaint is filed with the summons and served on the defendant.

Appearance and Answer

After the defendant has been served the complaint and summons, the defendant has a limited time to respond with an “answer”.  When the defendant has hired an attorney, the attorney may also file a “notice of appearance” to let the court and plaintiff know who is representing the defendant.  

Resolution of the Dispute

After a period of “discovery” during which the parties collect and exchange evidence, the parties will work to resolve the dispute.  Resolution can take several forms: settlement through informal negotiation or mediation, trial verdict or arbitration award. In many counties in Washington, an attempt to resolve the matter by mediation or arbitration is mandatory before a trial can proceed.  Generally, civil suits resolve prior to trial whether by mediation or arbitration or informal negotiations taking place in the background while the parties prepare their cases.


If the matter proceeds to a trial, the judge (or jury) will issue their verdict which in civil cases, will usually include a money judgment. In most cases this will take place on the same day as the arguments are heard, although a judge can take more time if needed.


If one of the parties believes the judgment was issued in error, they can file an appeal within a very limited timeframe. The appeals court has the right to decline to accept the appeal so there is a significant risk in placing your faith in the appeals court.  

Contact Us

Litigating a business dispute can be complex, and it is certainly not something you want to handle on your own. Having an experienced Washington state attorney representing you is the best way to ensure everything goes smoothly, and you get the results you want. Call APH Law today at (253) 720-3020!

Written by APH Law PLLC


When we founded APH Law PLLC in 2010, we did so out of a desire to connect business owners with more and better opportunities. No matter what industry you’re operating in, creating a strong foundation, preparing for the future, and protecting against challenges are key to long-term success. It is this kind of support that we take tremendous pride in helping businesses.