Attorney Fee provisions of RCW 4.84.250-4.84.270

Posted Monday, January 14, 2013 by Ed Harper

Here in the State of Washington, a personal injury complaint cannot ask for a certain sum of money. However, a defendant can inquire of the Plaintiff and ask them how much in “damages” are they seeking.

Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 4.28.360 provides the Defendant with the authority to ask for the amount(s) Plaintiff desires. Thus, special damages and general damages should be separately articulated. The RCW is a legislative mandate and allows the Defendant to understand how much the Plaintiff may be asking the Defendant to pay.

Should the Plaintiff merely shoot for the moon when listing their damages? Not always. In certain small cases, those where the Plaintiff has pleaded $10,000 or less, one can successfully acquire attorney fees pursuant to RCW 4.84.250. “Where the amount pleaded by the prevailing party…is $10,000 or less” attorney fees can be provided for by the court. This statute is meant to encourage settlement of smaller cases as one can receive a substantial amount of money for the attorney fees necessitated by the failure to settle by the non-prevailing party.

The Plaintiff is the prevailing party only if the Plaintiff’s recovery, exclusive of costs, is as much as or more than the amount offered in settlement by the Plaintiff. RCW 4.84.260.

The Defendant is the Prevailing party if the recovery is as much as or less than the amount offered in settlement by the Defendant. RCW 4.84.270.

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