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Facing a Small Claims Lawsuit in Wisconsin? Here's How to Respond

Posted by Nathan DeLadurantey | Jun 03, 2024

Being served with a small claims lawsuit can be stressful, but don't panic! In Wisconsin, you have options to defend yourself. Here's a breakdown of the steps to take if you're named as a defendant in a small claims case:

Understanding the Deadline

First things first: time is of the essence. The summons you receive will detail a deadline to respond to the complaint, this may include an option to file a written answer (versus appearing in court). Missing this deadline could result in an automatic judgment against you, meaning the plaintiff wins by default.

Deciding Your Response

Once you understand the claim against you, decide how to proceed. You can:

  • Agree with the Complaint: If the plaintiff's claims are accurate, consider settling the dispute outside of court or filing an admission of liability.
  • Dispute the Complaint: If you disagree with all or part of the complaint, you'll need to file an answer.

Filing an Answer

An answer is a formal document you submit to the court stating your response to the lawsuit. Here's how to file one:

  1. Obtain the Form: Visit your county's circuit court website or clerk's office to get the "Answer and Counterclaim" form (SC-5200V). Most places offer it online or in person.
  2. Fill Out the Form: The form includes clear instructions. Briefly explain why you disagree with any claims and include a counterclaim if applicable (a claim you have against the plaintiff).
  3. Make Copies: Photocopy the completed form for your records and to serve the plaintiff.
  4. File the Answer: Take the original and one copy to the clerk's office of the circuit court in the county where the lawsuit was filed. There may be a filing fee.
  5. Serve the Plaintiff: Deliver the final copy of the answer to the plaintiff. Proof of service is typically required.

Considering Legal Help

While you can represent yourself in small claims court, legal guidance can be invaluable, especially for complex cases. Consider consulting with an attorney to ensure your rights are protected.

Remember, this blog post is for general information only and doesn't constitute legal advice. For specific legal guidance regarding your situation, consult with an attorney.

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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