Ford County Small Claims Court, Illinois


Who hears my case in Ford County Small Claims Court

In Ford County, a small claims trial may be in front of a jury or a judge. If you are seriously considering requesting a jury trial, it is recommended that you speak with and seek advice from an attorney before making that request. 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. Requesting a jury trial also has additional costs for the party making the request.

Serving a Party in Ford County Small Claims Court

After filing the complaint, the plaintiff needs to arrange for it to be served. If the party is an individual, service is easy. Service of a corporate entity can be slightly more complex. In Illinois, a corporation can be served on either an office of the corporation or its registered agent. This information can be obtained online at the Illinois Secretary of State website.

What to Expect at a Ford 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. The plaintiff presents their side first. The defendant presents their case after the plaintiff has concluded their presentation. It is important to speak clearly and slowly so that the judge can understand you. It is normal for all people to be nervous when speaking in public (let alone in front of a judge) so it may be helpful to practice talking about your case in front of another person (spouse, friend, neighbor).

Small Claims Court Locations for Ford County

Small Claims Court cases are heard at:

Ford County Courthouse
200 West State Street
Paxton, IL 60957

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:

200 West State
Paxton, Illinois 60957-0080

The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 217-379-9420
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 217-379-9429

How do I file a case in small claims court?

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 defendant is the term that refers to the party being sued in the complaint.

Small Claims Court in Ford County

Ford County Small Claims Court

Ford County Small Claims Court

Small claims court in Ford 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 has much simpler rules and procedures and is designed to try cases faster.

What happens after the Small Claims Court Trial?

If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff, the judge can issue an order or judgment awarding the plaintiff 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.

Who can sue in 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. If a corporation sues in small claims court, they will need to be represented by an attorney. However, if a corporation is acting as a defendant, it is allowed to be represented by certain members of the corporation.

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

The law in Illinois mandates that a case be filed in the county where (1.) one of the defendants live or (2.) the county where the incident or transaction involved in the case occurred. For example, if your case involves a car accident and the car accident occurs in Ford County, you can file the case here.

Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing

The most important thing about preparing for your trial is the ability to explain your side of the case in a clear concise way to the judge (or jury) so they can understand. 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. Witnesses who support your side of the case should also be invited to court to provide testimony during 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 person refuses to come to court, you may need to take steps to issue a subpoena for them to attend.

What kind of cases are handled in 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
  • eviction
  • 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).

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. A demand letter is ideal because it takes time for a case to make its way through the courts toward a resolution. 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. Finally, a demand letter allows the plaintiff a chance to explain in clear words the facts surrounding the issue (which is something the plaintiff will have to do in the complaint which is filed with the court).

Is an Attorney Able to 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.