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Navigating Small Claims Court in Wisconsin: A Step-by-Step Guide

Posted by Nathan DeLadurantey | May 06, 2024

Disputes happen, and sometimes a lawsuit is the only way to resolve them. But if the amount you're seeking is relatively small, Wisconsin's small claims court offers a quicker and more affordable option than traditional civil court. Here's a breakdown of the process to help you navigate small claims court in Wisconsin:

Is Small Claims Court Right for You?

Before diving in, ensure your case meets the criteria. Wisconsin's small claims court handles:

  • Monetary claims: Up to $10,000. 
  • Personal injury/tort claims: Up to $5,000
  • Evictions: Regardless of rent amount

Initiating the Case:

  1. Gather Information: Prepare documents like contracts, receipts, and anything supporting your claim. Get the defendant's (the person you're suing) accurate contact details.
  2. File Your Complaint: Visit your local circuit court clerk's office. They'll provide the necessary forms (complaint and summons) and guide you through the filing process. There's a filing fee, typically around $94.50.

Serving the Defendant:

  • Once you file, the court arranges for the defendant to be served with the complaint and summons. This informs them of the lawsuit and the court date.

Preparing for Court:

  • Organize Your Evidence: Compile all documents and witness testimonies that strengthen your case. Practice your presentation beforehand.
  • The Hearing: The judge will listen to both sides and review evidence. Be clear, concise, and respectful when presenting your case.

Possible Outcomes:

  • Settlement: You and the defendant can reach an agreement before or during the hearing. The court will document the settlement.
  • Judgment: The judge will rule in favor of one party, awarding monetary damages (if applicable).

Enforcing the Judgment:

If the defendant doesn't pay the judgment, you'll need to take further steps to collect the money, which may involve garnishing wages or liens.

Important Resources:

  • Wisconsin Court System's Small Claims Guide: [Wisconsin guide to small claims court ON Wisconsin Court System]
  • Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 799: This chapter outlines the laws governing small claims actions in the state.

Consider Consulting an Attorney:

While small claims court is designed for self-representation, consulting an attorney can be beneficial, especially for complex cases. They can advise you on the process, ensure you meet all legal requirements, and represent you in court.

Remember, this is a general overview. For the latest information and specific procedures, consult the resources provided or contact your local circuit court clerk's office. 

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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