In Washington a civil action commences with the filing of a complaint. Party who commences the civil action is called the plaintiff, and the opposite party is called the defendant. Once a civil action is filed, the court clerk will issue the required summons to the defendant(s). A civil action can be classified into various stages that include: pleading stage, discovery stage, trial stage, and judgment stage.
Pleadings in Washington courts are classified as: complaint, answer to complaint, counter claim, reply to counterclaim, cross claim, reply to cross claim, third party complaint and answer to third party answer. A civil action should be filed by the real party in interest. If the real party in interest is a minor or incompetent person, the person’s representative should file the complaint. The courts, if found necessary will appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the minor or incompetent person.
Parties may obtain discovery by depositions upon oral examination or written questions; written interrogatories; production of documents or things or permission to enter upon land or other property, for inspection and other purposes; physical and mental examinations; and requests for admission.
A judgment is passed after trial. The judgment may include a decree or an order upon which an appeal is permissible.