What is an Answer?

The Answer addresses the allegations contained in the Complaint, paragraph-by-paragraph and either denies them or agrees to them. 

(1) The pleading containing the formal response to a complaint, admitting or denying the alleged claims. (2) A response to the Complaint in which the Defendant either admits or denies the allegations made by the Plaintiff. (3) A reply by the party being sued to the allegations made in the Complaint. 

File and Serve the Answer within 20 Days of Service of the Summons and Complaint: 

  • Under CR 12(a), an Answer must be served within twenty (20) days after service of the Summons and Complaint. 
  • If the Summons was served outside the state of Washington, the time is extended to sixty (60) days after service of the Summons and Complaint. 
  • If the service was made by publication, the time limit is sixty (60) days from the date of the first publication. 

Failure to File and Serve a timely Answer risks the entry of a Default Judgment. Default Judgments occur without notice to the Defendant and they award the Plaintiff everything they asked for in the Complaint. 

State Your Defenses: 

  • CR 8(b) provides that a Defendant’s Answer to a Plaintiff’s Complaint shall state any defenses to each claim. 
  • The defenses must be set forth in short and plain terms. 
  • CR 12(b) provides that certain defenses may be asserted either in the Answer or by motion prior to serving an Answer. 

If Allegations are Not Specifically Denied Then They are Deemed Admitted: 

  • CR 8(b) and CR 8(d) contemplate that the denial of an allegation in a pleading (such as an Answer) shall be made based on the knowledge of the Defendant, and that the allegations will be deemed admitted unless they are denied. 
  • The Defendant may specifically deny a designated allegation. For example: Defendant denies the allegations set out in paragraph no. 1 of the complaint. 
  • The Defendant may also generally deny all of the allegations, except those allegations as (s)he expressly admits. For example: Defendant___________________[name] answers the plaintiff _____________________[name]’s complaint as follows: Defendant____________________[name] denies the allegations in plaintiff’s complaint in their entirety. 

Deny Allegations That You Do Not Have Enough Information to Admit: 

  • It is recognized that a Defendant, at least at the time (s)he is required to Answer, may not know whether a particular allegation is true or not. 
  • CR 8(b), therefore, permits the Defendant to state that they have no information or beliefs sufficient to Answer, and on that basis deny the allegation. 
  • For example: Defendant denies for lack of sufficient information, knowledge and belief the allegations set out in paragraph no. 3 of the complaint.