Service of a Edgar County Small Claims Court Defendant
After a complaint is filed, the next step is for the plaintiff to affect service of the complaint on the defendant(s). Serving an individual is easy (if an address is known). Service of a corporate entity can be slightly more complex. In the State of Illinois, a corporate entity can be served on a corporation’s office or its 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 Happens at a Small Claims Court Trial
At a bench trial (or trial in front of a judge), the judge will listen to both the plaintiff and the defendant. The court will also listen to any witness testimony and exhibits (documents) provided by either side. The court will hear evidence from the plaintiff 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. Normally, people will naturally be inclined to be nervous when speaking in public (and in front of a court), so it is recommended you practice discussing your side of the case in front of another person (spouse, relative, neighbor, friend) so you get more comfortable speaking about it.
What Types of Cases are handled in Edgar County Small Claims Court?
Only the following types of cases can be filed in small claims court under Illinois law:
- breach of contract
- property damage
- personal injury cases
- repossessions of personal property that was leased or purchased on credit
- garnishment actions brought against debtors
The most amount of money that a court can award in small claims court is $10,000 (plus court costs and fees).
Is an Attorney Able to Represent Me in Small Claims Court?
Plaintiffs and Defendants can either represent themselves or use an attorney. However, when a corporate entity is the plaintiff in a case, it is required to be represented by an attorney.
Filing a Small Claims Case in Edgar County Court
Illinois law requires a small claims court case to be filed in the county where one of the defendants live or in the county where the incident or transaction involved in the case occurred. In the case of a traffic collision, it would be the county where the traffic collision occurred.
Small Claims Court in Edgar County
In Edgar County, small claims court allows a plaintiff to bring a case if the amount is $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.
Who can Bring a Case in Edgar County Small Claims Court?
Small claims court can be used by any resident of Illinois or Illinois corporation (both as a plaintiff or a defendant). The court may require the appointment of a guardian for those parties under the age of 18. If a corporation sues in small claims court, they will need to be represented by an attorney. However, if a corporation is sued, it can be represented by certain officials at the company including an officer, manager, or registered agent.
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. Demand letters are a written summary explaining the facts surrounding your case and why you are entitled to money (which should be drafted in a polite, clear, concise way). 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 funds after winning a judgment is not a guarantee. Drafting and sending a demand letter allows for both parties to explore the possibility of a settlement even before a case is filed. Additionally, putting down your case in clear words is something a plaintiff will have to do anyways when a complaint is filed (and certainly done in preparation for the trial).
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. You should gather and bring anything that can support your side of the case including photographs, contracts, receipts, invoices, or other documents. It is recommended to prepare a short chronology of events or description of all of the facts surrounding 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). You should also take steps to secure the attendance of any witnesses that have information to help your case. 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.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case
To begin a small claims case, the party needs to file a document with the court clerk called a complaint. 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 defendant is the term that refers to the party being sued in the complaint.
After the Small Claims Court Hearing
If the court finds for the plaintiff, the court is able to issue a judgment which awards monetary damages to the plaintiff. Either party is able to appeal the judgment issued by the court (which must be filed within thirty days of the judgment being entered by the court.
Locations for Small Claims Court in Edgar County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Edgar County Courthouse 115 W. Court Street Paris, IL 61944-1785
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:115 West Court Street Paris, Illinois 61944-1739
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 217-466-7447
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 217-466-7443
Does a Edgar County Small Claims Court Jury or Judge?
In Edgar County, a small claims trial may be in front of a jury or a judge. It is highly recommended that a party consult with an attorney before asking for a jury trial. Jury trials (in front of six or twelve people) are much more complex than a bench trial (trial in front of a judge) and require more preparation. Additionally, a jury trial costs additional money for the party requesting it.