The State of Wisconsin Court Access website has provided individuals with a Basic Guide to Wisconsin Small Claims Actions in Washington County to assist with navigating the small claims process.
In addition to the general guide, you may also find small claim forms and summary sheets located on the Wisconsin Court System Website at: Circuit Court Forms - Small Claims.
Before starting a small claims action it is suggested that you make a formal written demand for payment to the other party. Send a certified letter asking for settlement. Make it clear you intend to take legal action if settlement cannot be reached, informing them that all court costs will be added to the amount you are seeking. Allow a reasonable amount of time for the other party to contact you before commencing the action.
Small Claims actions are filed in the county where the defendant lives or where the action took place. Landlord/tenant disputes may be taken to court in the county where the property lies or where the defendant lives.
If your claim is for money, it must not exceed $10,000.00. Actions involving personal injury, tort, or third party claims must not exceed $5,000.00. A corporation must be represented by an attorney or a full-time employee authorized to act on its behalf. The filing fee for a small claims action is $94.50, payable upon opening the case in the Clerk of Courts office.
Washington County Small Claims Court requires personal service of the summons and complaint on the defendant. You may contact a private process server or the Sheriff's Department of the County where the defendant lives to serve your papers.
The $94.50 filing fee and the fee for having the papers served will automatically be added on to the total amount due to you if you win your case. The clerk will total the amount of the judgment.
Q. How can I start a small claims action and where do I get the forms?
A. You may obtain information on forms to start a small claims action, as well as a basic guide to Wisconsin Small Claims Actions from on the State of Wisconsin prose' website at https://myforms.wicourts.gov/. Note: This link will direct you to an online Small Claims Wizard that will assist in filling out small claims forms.
Q. Can I submit my forms or start a new action online/electronically?
A. The State of Wisconsin circuit court eFiling system allows attorneys and parties to electronically file new cases and documents for various case types including small claims actions. You may find information regarding efile/eCourts by visiting the Wisconsin Court System eFile/eCourts website. It is recommended that you download the State of Wisconsin's brochure: eFiling for Attorneys: A quick reference guide, which contains information that may be useful to prose individuals as well.
Q. I've been served with a small claims action, how do I file my answer?
A. Your answer must be in writing and state the reasons you believe the Plaintiff is not entitled to the demands he/she makes of you in this lawsuit.
Your original Answer must be sent to the Washington County Clerk of Courts, Small Claims Division, P. O. Box 1986, West Bend, WI 53095. You must also send a copy of your Answer to the Plaintiff/Plaintiff's Attorney by the court date. You do not need to appear if the Answer is filed, the matter will be set for a Trial to the Court and you will be mailed a notice of the Trial date and time.
If the Answer is Not Filed by the court date, the Plaintiff has the right to take a judgment against you in the amount requested in the Complaint.
Q. What is the procedure for filing a counterclaim?
A. Your counterclaim must be in writing and be sent to the Washington County Clerk of Courts, Small Claims Division, P. O. Box 1986, West Bend, WI 53095. The basic procedure on the website at the top of this section for the Basic Guide to Wisconsin Small Claims Actions in Washington County is the procedure followed in Washington County.