Small Claims Court Clark County
Small claims court is a special type of civil court where a party can file a case for $10,000 or less. Rules and procedures for small claims court have been simplified to allow cases to be tried faster and by people who are not attorneys.
Before Filing a Small Claims Court Case
Before a party files a case in small claims court, it is recommended to contact the party directly by sending a demand letter. A demand letter is a written summary describing the circumstances of the plaintiff’s claim and explains why the plaintiff should be awarded the money. The demand letter is recommended because resolving a case through small claims court (even though quicker and simpler than a regular civil case) still takes time. Additionally, collection of any court award takes additional time and is never guaranteed. If there is a chance you can resolve the case without filing in small claims court, it is a worthwhile step to take. Drafting a demand letter also allows the plaintiff to explain the case in a brief manner (which has to be done when the complaint is filed in the court).
Serving a Party in Clark County Small Claims Court
After a complaint is filed, the next step is for the plaintiff to affect service of the complaint on the defendant(s). If the party is an individual, service is easy. But if the party is a corporate entity, it can be more difficult determining the correct procedure. Illinois allows for service of a corporate entity on the corporation’s office or registered agent. The Illinois Secretary of State website has additional information to allow you to search for addresses related to corporate entities and registered agents.
What County Should a Small Claims Court Case be filed in?
In Illinois, a small claims court case must be filed in the county where one of the defendants live or in the county in which the incident or transaction took place. For example, if your case involves a car accident and the car accident occurs in Clark County, you can file the case here.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case
The plaintiff needs to file a document called a complaint with the court clerk. A small claims complaint can be obtained at the court clerk’s office. The party filing the complaint to begin the court case is called the plaintiff. The party being sued in the complaint is called the defendant.
What happens after the Small Claims Court Trial?
If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff, it will issue a judgment of monetary damages. Illinois law requires that either party wishing to appeal the judgment in small claims court needs to be filed the appeal within thirty days of the date the judgment is entered by the court.
Can I have an attorney represent me in Small Claims Court?
Both plaintiffs and defendants are allowed to be represented by attorneys in small claims court or you can represent yourself. However, when a corporate entity is the plaintiff in a case, it is required to be represented by an attorney.
Small Claims Court Locations for Clark County
In Clark County, Small Claims Court cases are heard at:
The court’s website is here. The circuit court clerk takes care of all documents and files for court cases. The circuit clerk’s address is:P.O. Box 187 Marshall, Illinois 62441-0187
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 217-826-2811
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 217-826-1391
Who can Bring a Case in Clark County Small Claims Court?
Any individual or corporation doing business in Illinois can both sue and be sued in small claims court. The court may require the appointment of a guardian for those parties under the age of 18. A corporation is not required to be represented by an attorney in small claims court. However, if a corporation is sued, it can be represented by certain officials at the company including an officer, manager, or registered agent.
How to Prepare for a Small Claims Court Trial
The key to preparing a case for trial is to be able to explain your side of the case in a way that is easy for the judge (or jury) to understand. Before the trial date, you should gather any pieces of evidence that will help you explain your side of the case including any contracts, receipts, photographs, or other documents. It is useful to prepare a short chronology of the dates and times of the events in your case. Details including dates, times, and values of damages or items purchased will be important for the court to take note of (and should have been included in your initial complaint if you are the plaintiff). If there are any people who observed anything in your case, it is important to invite them to court to provide testimony at the trial. It is important the witness is aware of the location of the court and the date and time of the trial in order to be able to appear in person. If the witness refuses to come to court, you will need to prepare and serve a subpoena for the witness’s attendance.
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Trial
In a court trial, the judge will decide the facts of your case and will listen to the evidence provided by the plaintiff and the defendant. The judge will also listen to any testimony from any witnesses and examine any exhibits (documents and photographs) provided by the parties. The plaintiff presents their side first. Defendants present their case once the plaintiffs have finished presenting its case. It is important to speak clearly and slowly so that the judge can understand you. It is normal to be nervous when speaking in front of a judge, which is why we recommend that your practice talking about your case with another person before the actual trial.
Who hears my case in Clark County Small Claims Court
Clark County allows for a small claims court case to be either a bench (judge) or jury trial. It is highly recommended that a party consult with an attorney before asking for a jury trial. A jury trial is much more complex and difficult for a person to represent themselves in and requires substantially more preparation. Requesting a jury trial also has additional costs for the party making the request.
Types of Small Claims Court Cases
Illinois restricts the types of cases that can be filed in small claims court to the following:
- breach of contract
- property damage
- personal injury
- repossessions of personal property that was leased or purchased on credit
- garnishment case against a debtor
The maximum judgment that can be allowed in small claims court is $10,000 (plus costs).