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Kevin O'Flaherty

What is a Small Claims Lawsuit in Wisconsin?

In Wisconsin, a small claims lawsuit is a legal process where the court of law resolves disputes that involve relatively small amounts of money. $10,000 is the maximum amount that can be claimed in a small claims court in Wisconsin.

Small claims can be made over disputes such as unpaid bills,damages to property, breach of contract, and landlord-tenant disagreements.Typically less formal than other types of lawsuits, small claims cases generally are intended to be resolved quickly and inexpensively. Small claims are heard in the circuit court where the defendant resides or where the dispute happened.


What are the Most Common Types of Small Claim Cases?

The most common types of small claims cases are:

· Claims for tort/personal injury: where the amount  is $5,000 or less.

· Claims for money: where the amount  is $10,000 or less

· Claims for replevin(return of property)

· Claims for eviction: regardless of the amount of rent claimed


For more information on this topic read our article, Can I Sue Someone If They Owe Me Money?

Attorney talking to client in wheelchair

How Do I File A  Small Claims Case?

Prior to pursuing small claims court, it is always a good idea to try and resolve the dispute on your own. This can be with tactics such as mediation or negotiation. Valuable time and money can be saved here if  the case never has to go to court in the first place.


If an agreement can not be made, then the first thing you will want to determine is if your case is eligible for small claims court.Remember, in Wisconsin, small claims typically involve $10,000 or less. Next,you will want to gather evidence to help your cases, such as receipts,contracts, photographs, or witness statements.


You will want to complete any county-specific forms,complete the Summons and Complaint form, and create copies for each defendant.The original copies can be brought to the court clerk for filing. After completing the forms, you must notify the defendant of the lawsuit. This can be done by certified mail or by having a Sheriff or process server deliver the papers.


The court will then schedule a hearing after the defendant has been served. Both parties will be required to attend the hearing and have the opportunity to present their evidence and argument.



Who Can Sue in Small Claims Court?

Any business or individual in Wisconsin can sue in small claims court as long as the claim is under $10,000. This includes individuals,partnerships, corporations, limited liability companies (LLCs), and other legal entities.


The only restriction is that you must be over 18 years old to sue in small claims court. A parent or guardian can bring a claim on behalf of a minor.


It's important to note that small claims court is intended to be a more straightforward and less formal process than other types of lawsuits, and parties are generally expected to represent themselves without the assistance of an attorney. However, parties can still seek legal advice and representation if they wish.


Do I Have to Pay a File A Small Claims Action?


There are generally filing fees in small claims courts in Wisconsin. The fee can vary from county to county depending on where you fileand the amount of your claim. Small claim filing fees can range from $50 to$100 or more. If you cannot afford the filing fee, you can request a waiver of the fee by providing the court with proof of income. It is always important to consider the costs and benefits of filing a small claims action before proceeding.



Are There Ways to Avoid Small Claims Court?


The best way to avoid Small Claims Court involves working with the other party to try and resolve disputes. This can be as simple as open and honest communication with the other party or utilizing other tools such as mediation or arbitration. Negotiation and payment plans are other tactics people can use to try and avoid Small Claims Court. Before getting to the point of contention with the other party,review contracts and agreements carefully to avoid them altogether. Ask for clarifications from the other party and seek advice from an experienced Wisconsin litigation attorney to ensure you are protected, which can save you time, money, and stress.

Disclaimer: The information provided on this blog is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Each individual's legal needs are unique, and these materials may not be applicable to your legal situation. Always seek the advice of a competent attorney with any questions you may have regarding a legal issue. Do not disregard professional legal advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this blog.

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