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Navigating Small Claims Court in Wisconsin: A Guide for Filing a Lawsuit

Posted by Nathan DeLadurantey | Jun 19, 2024

Facing a financial dispute with a neighbor, friend, or business in Wisconsin? Small claims court might be the solution! Designed for simpler and less expensive cases, it allows individuals to resolve matters without the complexities of traditional court proceedings. Here's a breakdown of how to file a small claims lawsuit in Wisconsin:

Understanding the Limits

Wisconsin's small claims court has limitations on the amount you can sue for. Currently, the limit is:

  • $10,000: For most contract disputes, property damage, and personal injury claims.
  • $5,000: For tort claims (personal injury or property damage) and third-party complaints.

Is Small Claims Court Right for You?

Small claims court is a good option for:

  • Relatively simple cases: Straightforward disputes like unpaid bills, property damage, or breach of contract.
  • Lower costs: Filing fees are significantly lower than traditional court cases.
  • Faster resolution: Small claims cases typically move quicker than regular lawsuits.

Preparing Your Case

Before filing, gather documents that support your claim, such as:

  • Contracts: Agreements outlining the terms of the service or product in question.
  • Receipts: Proof of payment or purchase.
  • Correspondence: Emails, texts, or letters related to the dispute.
  • Witness statements: Written statements from individuals who can corroborate your claims.

Filing the Lawsuit

  1. Visit Your County Circuit Court: Head to the clerk's office of the circuit court in the county where the defendant (the person you're suing) resides or where the dispute occurred.
  2. Obtain the Forms: Request a "Small Claim Complaint" form (SC-2000V) and any additional instructions. Most courts offer these online as well.
  3. Fill Out the Complaint: Clearly explain the nature of your claim, the amount you're seeking, and why you believe the defendant owes you money.

Serving the Defendant

  • Proof of Service: Once the court accepts your complaint, you'll need to have someone 18 years or older (not yourself) serve the defendant with a copy of the complaint and a summons (notice to appear in court).
  • Service Options: There are approved service methods, such as personal delivery to the defendant or certified mail with return receipt requested.

The Court Hearing

  • Present Your Case: Be prepared to explain your side of the story clearly and concisely. Bring all your supporting documents and any witnesses.
  • The Defendant's Response: The defendant has the opportunity to respond to your claims and present their side.
  • The Judge's Decision: The judge will listen to both sides and issue a ruling, which could be in your favor, the defendant's favor, or a partial judgment for both parties.

Enforcing the Judgment

If the judge rules in your favor and the defendant doesn't pay, you'll need to take additional steps to collect the money owed. This may involve garnishing wages or levying on the defendant's bank account.

Considering Legal Help

While you can represent yourself in small claims court, consulting with an attorney can be beneficial, especially for complex cases. They can guide you through the process, ensure proper paperwork, and represent you in court.


Small claims court can be a valuable tool for resolving disputes efficiently and affordably. By following these steps and gathering the necessary documentation, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome.

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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