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What forms do I need to fill out to respond to a summons and complaint. What should my response include?

Seattle, WA |

I received a summons and complaint a couple of days ago. It wasn't delivered to me, but to a friend. Should I include that in my response? What else is important to do with this summons and complaint?

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Attorney answers 3


If the Summons and Complaint were delivered to a friend at your home, or somewhere where you claimed was your home, the delivery was probably made according to state law. If the delivery wasn't made as allowed by state law, you will still want to respond to the lawsuit as soon as possible.

Although each state may use a different formatting process, the response to a lawsuit is usually called an "Answer." You would typically respond by going through the claims in the complaint paragraph by paragraph, and either admitting or denying the statement. You can deny a claim if you don't know if it is true by saying that you "deny due to lack of information."

In some states you can obtain forms from the court website or at the courthouse, in other states, you individually write up your response. In every instance, you will want to sign & date the document before you file it, and you usually need to include a space for a Notary to sign to show that 1) you were the person that signed it and 2) you understand that you are submitting your response as if you were testifying in court under penalty of perjury.

Hope this info helps & good luck!


The first thing you need to do if and when you get sued is file an Answer. The summons will tell you that you must “appear” by way of an Answer in 10, 20 or 30 days, “depending on the method of service.”


You need a lawyer, but if you cannot afford one right away, rather then do nothing and have a judgment entered against you, is to “appear” by filing something!

Many people think this means they have to go to Court and this is incorrect. 90% of all lawsuits end in Default Judgments because the defendant (person getting sued) did not file an Answer.

I recommend you go to the free form I have on my website. Print it out and fill it out as instructed. You must answer the numbered paragraphs on the Complaint by writing them into the appropriate lines in the Answer. The Answer will allow you to preserve your rights and will prohibit a default judgment (i.e. you did not show up) from being entered against you.

Mimic the paperwork you got when you got sued. Answer all the paragraphs of the Complaint by writing the numbers in lines 1, 2 or 3.

Almost 100% of attorneys will deny what is owed because they did not do the calculations and do not know what the basis for the number is…

When you file the Answer that is your “not guilty”. You have the right to make the person suing you (Plaintiff) prove their case, but you must also answer the complaint truthfully.

Make sure you fill in the name and address of the attorney suing you before you bring this paperwork to the Court. Mail it to the attorney suing you right away!

Check out the guide I have drafted on the Avvo profile. This will provide more detailed instructions. If it is helpful remember to indicate that and get the guide read!

Good Luck!

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Disclaimer: This answer does not constitute legal advice. I am admitted in the States of New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts only and make no attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to those three States. This advice is based on general principles of law that may or may not relate to your specific situation. Facts and laws change and these possible changes will affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author only and the fact that he has worked as an Assistant District Attorney; State Supreme Court Clerk; Special Assistant United States Attorney (Hawaii); Assistant Cornell University Counsel or Judge Advocate, United States Marine Corps should not be relied upon to assume that these statements reflect the policy of these organizations.


Neither answer is complete. If the complaint was served on someone else, where was it served? If it was at your residence, then service is most likely valid. However, it was someone where you did not live, then filing an Answer is waiving the right to dispute service.

Consult with a Washington attorney about whether you can dispute based on service. If not, then you should use the complaint as a format for your answer, and respond to everything. Without a lawyer, though, you may be waiving defenses that you have.

[I am a Virginia-licensed attorney. This communication is intended as general information and not specific legal advice, and this communication does not create an attorney-client relationship.]

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