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A Step-by-Step Guide to Initiating a Lawsuit in Wisconsin

Posted by Nathan DeLadurantey | Jul 17, 2023

Starting a lawsuit can be a complex and intimidating process. If you find yourself needing to initiate a legal action in the state of Wisconsin, it's important to understand the necessary steps involved. This blog post will provide you with a general overview of the process, although it's important to consult with an attorney for specific legal advice tailored to your situation. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to start a lawsuit in Wisconsin.

Step 1: Determine the Validity of Your Claim Before initiating a lawsuit, it's crucial to determine whether you have a valid claim. Assess the facts and circumstances of your case and gather any supporting evidence or documentation. It's highly recommended to consult with an attorney who specializes in the area of law relevant to your claim. They can provide guidance on the strength of your case and whether pursuing legal action is advisable.

Step 2: Identify the Correct Court In Wisconsin, different courts have jurisdiction over various types of cases. Identify the appropriate court that has jurisdiction over your claim. Generally, small claims cases involving disputes of $10,000 or less are handled by small claims courts, while more significant cases fall under the jurisdiction of circuit courts. Family law matters, probate cases, and administrative hearings have their specific courts as well.

Step 3: Prepare and File the Complaint The complaint is a legal document that outlines your claim and the relief you seek. It typically includes a statement of facts, the legal basis for your claim, and the specific relief you are requesting from the court. Draft your complaint carefully, ensuring that all necessary information is included. If you are uncertain about how to prepare the complaint, consult with an attorney to ensure accuracy and completeness.

Once the complaint is ready, it must be filed with the appropriate court. Ensure you follow the court's procedures for filing, including any specific formatting requirements and fees that may apply. Make copies of the complaint for yourself and any defendants involved in the case.

Step 4: Serve the Complaint After filing the complaint, you must serve a copy of it on the defendant(s) named in the case. Proper service is crucial to ensure that the defendant is aware of the legal action being taken against them. Wisconsin allows various methods of service, including personal service, certified mail, or publication in certain circumstances. Review Wisconsin's rules of service or consult with an attorney to determine the appropriate method for your case.

Step 5: The Defendant's Response Once the defendant(s) receive the complaint, they have a specific period, usually around 20 days, to respond. They may file an answer, admitting or denying the allegations made in the complaint, or file a motion to dismiss. If the defendant fails to respond within the designated timeframe, you may be eligible to request a default judgment.

Step 6: Discovery and Pretrial Proceedings After the defendant has responded, the discovery process begins. This involves gathering evidence, exchanging information, and conducting depositions, if necessary. The court may also schedule pretrial conferences to discuss settlement options or narrow down the issues for trial. It's advisable to consult with an attorney during this phase to guide you through the discovery process and strategize your case.

Step 7: Trial and Resolution If the case proceeds to trial, both parties present their arguments and evidence before a judge or jury. The court will then make a decision based on the evidence presented. If you win the case, the court may award you the relief you sought in the complaint, such as damages or specific performance.

Conclusion: Initiating a lawsuit in Wisconsin requires careful preparation and adherence to legal procedures. Remember that this blog post provides a general overview, and consulting with an attorney who specializes in Wisconsin law is essential for personalized guidance. By following these steps and seeking professional advice, you can navigate the process with greater confidence.

Attorney Nathan DeLadurantey offers free consultations to explain your legal rights in Wisconsin. Free consultations can be scheduled online. 

About the Author

Nathan DeLadurantey

Nathan DeLadurantey ATTORNEY [email protected] Nathan is a skilled consumer lawyer who handles cases and trials all over Wisconsin. Phone consultations are always free and welcomed. Nathan has helped clients receive large jury verdicts and settlements stemming from consumer law violations, and is ready and able to assist.


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