Wisconsin Personal Injury Law
Statutes of Limitations:
The amount of time you have to sue whoever caused your injury or damage.
- Personal Injury - 3 years from the time the injury is discovered
- Damage to Personal Property - 6 years
- Medical malpractice - 3 years from when you discover the injury, but in no event more than 5 years after the actual act occurred
- Legal malpractice - 3 years from when the damage occurred
- Other professional malpractice - 3 years
Where to Sue:
- Personal injury claims under $5,000 - sWisconsin Small Claims Court
- Personal injury claims over $5,000 - Wisconsin Circuit Court
How to Sue:
Small Claims Court:
- Forms: Wisconsin Summons and Complaint (Form SC-500)
- Where to file: File your claim with the Clerk of the Court where the defendant lives, does substantial business, or where the injury occurred.
- How to notify the defendant (service): The defendant may be served by an adult not interested in the case, by mail, or by publication.
- Proving the defendant was notified: After serving the defendant, the process server must file an Affidavit of Service (Form SC-5110) if the defendant was personally served, or an Affidavit of Mailing (Form SC-5130) [link to Affidavit of Mailing, if the defendant was served by mail. If the defendant was served by publication, the process server should complete a Publication Notice and Summons.
- Attorneys: You may have the representation of an attorney in Wisconsin Small Claims Court.
- Appealing a small claim: Either party may appeal a decision of a Wisconsin Small Claims Court to a Wisconsin Court of Appeals within 45 days of the initial judgment. The appeal must be based on questions of law, and not on questions of fact.
Wisconsin Circuit Court:
Contact a Wisconsin personal injury attorney. Personal injury lawsuits are multifaceted and complex. Errors in your case may cause you to lose your claim, have your claim dismissed, or result in a court fine.
- Forms: Wisconsin Circuit Court Summons and Complaint. You can obtain summons and complaint forms from the clerk of the Wisconsin Circuit Court in the county where you intend to sue.
- How to File:Give the Wisconsin Circuit Court Summons and Complaint to the clerk of the Wisconsin Circuit Court where the defendant resides, where the injury occurred, or where the defendant conducts substantial business, and pay the filing fee. The clerk will authenticate the summons.
- How to Notify the Defendant: A disinterested adult must hand the authenticated Wisconsin Summons and Complaint to the defendant. The process server should then file an Affidavit of Service with the clerk of the Wisconsin Circuit Court. Instead of personally serving the defendant, the service of process may be mailed to the defendant. The process server must then file an Affidavit of Mailing with the clerk of the Wisconsin Circuit Court.
What to Do if You Are Being Sued:
- Time to respond to a Summons in Wisconsin: 20 days.
- Get help from an attorney experienced in personal injury law.
- Your insurance company should be notified if the incident from which the injury arose if it occurred on your property or at your place of business. If the insurance company finds that the injury is covered by your insurance policy, you may be given a lawyer.
What to Do if a Judgment Was Entered Against You:
You must answer a Wisconsin Summons and Complaint within 20 days of being served; otherwise, the court can enter a default judgment against you. A default judgment means that the plaintiff has won their case automatically due to your failure to answer the complaint. You will be liable to pay the damages the plaintiff requested.
- Time to Set Aside a Judgment in Wisconsin:
- Wisconsin Circuit Courts can set aside a judgment for mistake, inadvertence, neglect or surprise, or fraud or misrepresentation no more than one year after the court entered the judgment
- Wisconsin Circuit Courts can set aside a judgment based on newly discovered evidence within one year after the judgment unless the court enters an order denying or granting such a motion is made within 90 days of the judgment
- Get advice from a lawyer if the court enters a default judgment against you.
Ways to Collect Your Judgment:
- If you succeed in your Wisconsin personal injury case, you still must collect your judgment, which can be involved. You should get an order from the court requiring the debtor to appear before the court to disclose his assets. After the debtor has disclosed his assets, you may file a writ with the court to garnish the debtor’s wages or to attach the debtor's property.
- Because collecting a judgment can be difficult, you should consult a Wisconsin debt collection attorney.