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Your Guide to Navigating Small Claims Court: What to Do When Sued

Posted by Nathan DeLadurantey | Apr 01, 2024

Receiving notice of a lawsuit can be a daunting and terrifying experience, especially if it's your first time navigating the legal system. Small claims court, designed to handle disputes involving relatively small amounts of money, offers a simplified and accessible process for resolving disputes. In this blog post, we'll explore what to do when sued in small claims court and provide practical tips to help you navigate the process effectively.

  1. Review the Summons and Complaint: Upon being sued, you will receive a summons and complaint detailing the nature of the lawsuit, the amount being claimed, and the deadline for responding. It's essential to carefully review these documents and understand the allegations against you.

  2. Understand Your Options: After reviewing the summons and complaint, you have several options for responding:

    • Admit the Claim: If you agree with the plaintiff's allegations and the amount being claimed, you can choose to admit the claim. If you do this, the Court will immediately enter judgment against you. This is not advised. 

    • Contest the Claim: If you dispute the plaintiff's allegations or the amount being claimed, you can contest the claim and defend yourself in court.

    • File a Counterclaim: In some cases, you may have grounds to file a counterclaim against the plaintiff for damages or other relief. This allows you to assert your own claims in response to the lawsuit.

  3. Gather Evidence: Regardless of whether you admit or contest the claim, it's essential to gather evidence to support your case. This may include documents, photographs, receipts, witness statements, or any other relevant evidence that can help substantiate your position.

  4. Prepare Your Defense: If you choose to contest the claim, it's crucial to prepare your defense thoroughly. This may involve drafting a written response to the complaint, outlining your arguments, and organizing your evidence to present in court.

  5. Attend the Hearing: Small claims court hearings are relatively informal proceedings where both parties have the opportunity to present their case before a judge. It's essential to attend the hearing on the scheduled date and be prepared to present your arguments and evidence effectively.

  6. Follow Court Procedures: During the hearing, adhere to court procedures and protocols, such as addressing the judge respectfully, presenting your case concisely, and following any instructions given by the judge.

  7. Await the Judgment: After both parties have presented their case, the judge will render a judgment based on the evidence and arguments presented. If the judgment is in your favor, you may be awarded damages or other relief. If the judgment is against you, you may be required to pay the amount claimed by the plaintiff.

Conclusion: Being sued in small claims court can be a stressful experience, but with careful preparation and a clear understanding of your rights and options, you can navigate the process effectively. Whether you choose to admit the claim, contest the claim, or file a counterclaim, it's essential to gather evidence, prepare your defense, and follow court procedures diligently. By doing so, you can present your case effectively and work towards a fair and just resolution of the dispute.


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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