Effingham County Small Claims Court, Illinois


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. Also, collecting funds after prevailing in court can take more time and is not guaranteed. If it is possible to settle your case before filing with the court, it is an option worth exploring. 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).

After your Small Claims Court Case

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.

How do I serve a party?

After filing the complaint, the plaintiff needs to arrange for it to be served. 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. In the State of Illinois, a corporate entity can be served on a corporation’s office or its registered agent. This information can be obtained online at the Illinois Secretary of State website.

What to Expect at a Effingham County 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 judge will also listen to any testimony from any witnesses and examine any exhibits (documents and photographs) provided by the parties. Plaintiffs present their side of the case first. The defendant puts on its side of the case once the plaintiff has finished. 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.

Small Claims Court Effingham County

Effingham County Small Claims Court

Effingham County Small Claims Court

Small claims court in Effingham County is a unique type of court where a plaintiff can file a case in an amount of $10,000 or less. Small claims court in Effingham County uses simpler rules and procedures than regular civil court which allows cases to be tried or resolved quicker and by people who are not attorneys.

Types of Small Claims Court Cases

Only the following types of cases can be filed in small claims court under Illinois law:

  • breach of contract
  • property damage
  • personal injury
  • eviction
  • repossession of personal property 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).

Am I Able to Have an Attorney Represent Me in Small Claims Court?

You can represent yourself in small claims court or hire an attorney to represent you. But, corporate entities that are the plaintiffs are required to be represented by an attorney.

Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing

A party preparing for a small claims court trial should prepare the case to make a clear, understandable presentation to a judge. Bring documents, photographs, contracts, receipts, or anything else that supports your position. Preparing a short chronology of the events in your case is helpful. Dates, times, and monetary values are extremely important details for the court to take note of. 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. Ensure the witness is aware of the exact date, time, and location of your small claims court case. If the witness refuses to come to court, you will need to prepare and serve a subpoena for the witness’s attendance.

What County Should a Small Claims Court Case be filed in?

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.

Who can be a plaintiff in small claims court?

An Illinois corporation or any resident in Illinois can use small claims court to file a claim (and be sued as well). 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 acting as a defendant, it is allowed to be represented by certain members of the corporation.

Does a Effingham County Small Claims Court Jury or Judge?

In Effingham County, a small claims trial may be in front of a jury or a judge. You are encouraged to consult with an attorney prior to requesting a jury trial. A jury trial (which can be in front of six or twelve jurors) is highly complex and requires significantly more preparation than a trial in front of a judge. Additionally, a jury trial costs additional money for the party requesting it.

How to File 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 blank complaint can be obtained by contacting the court clerk’s office. The party filing the complaint is called the plaintiff. The party that the plaintiff is trying to recover money from is called the defendant.

Small Claims Court Locations for Effingham County

Small Claims Court cases are heard at:

Effingham County Courthouse
120 West Jefferson
Effingham, IL 62401

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:

120 W. Jefferson,
Suite

101

Effingham, Illinois 62401-0586

The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 217-342-4065
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 217-342-6183