What is a Summons?
- The document that informs the Defendant: (1) that a suit has been brought against him or her AND (b) when the Answer must be filed.
- A writ or process commencing the Plaintiff’s action and requiring the Defendant to appear and Answer.
The Summons notifies the Defendant(s) that a suit has been brought against them and sets forth when the Defendant’s Answer must be made. Notification is part of due process.
The Plaintiff must serve the Defendant with a copy of the Summons and Complaint within ninety (90) days of the date of filing with the Clerk’s Office. The statute of limitations is tolled at ninety (90) days from the date of filing with the court. See RCW 4.16.170; Jones v. Stebbins, 122 Wn.2d 471, 860 P.2d 1009 (1993); Martin v. Triol, 121 Wn.2d 135, 847 P.2d 471 (1993).
For a Summons personally served in Washington, the specified response time is twenty (20) days from the date of receipt; the Defendant has twenty (20) days from the date of receipt to reply in the form of a Notice of Appearance or Answer. CR 12.
For a Summons served outside the state of Washington, the specified response time is 60 days. CR 12 and RCW 4.28.180.
- However, if a nonresident defendant has appointed a registered agent to receive service of process in Washington, and the registered agent is served in Washington, the response time is 20 days, not 60 days. CR 12.
- Out-of-state corporations and many other entities doing business in Washington are required to name a registered agent for service of process in Washington.
When service is by publication, the statutes require a special form of Summons with a response time of 60 days from the date of first publication. CR 12 and RCW 4.28.110.
Summonses, Proof of Service, and related documents require standardized forms.