Locations for Small Claims Court in Henderson County
In Henderson County, Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Henderson County Courthouse P.O. Box 308 Oquawka, IL 61469
The circuit court clerk takes care of all documents and files for court cases. The circuit clerk’s address is:P.O. Box 546 Oquawka, Illinois 61469-0546
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 309-867-3121
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 309-867-3207
Filing a Small Claims Court Case
The plaintiff needs to file a document called a complaint with the court clerk. A blank complaint can be obtained through the court clerk’s office which is located inside of the courthouse. 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.
Who can be a plaintiff in 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. If a defendant is a corporate entity, only certain officers or members of the corporation are allowed to represent it.
Am I Able to Have an Attorney Represent Me in Small Claims Court?
Plaintiffs and Defendants can either represent themselves or use an attorney. However, corporations acting as plaintiffs are required to be represented by an attorney.
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Trial
At a trial in front of a judge, the court determines the facts of the case after listening to the evidence provided by both the plaintiff and defendant. The judge will also listen to any testimony from any witnesses and examine any exhibits (documents and photographs) provided by the parties. The court will hear evidence from the plaintiff first. The defendant presents their case after the plaintiff has concluded their presentation. As the judge is deciding the facts of your case, it is required that you speak slowly and clearly so the judge can follow what you are saying. 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).
Before Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Henderson County
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). Sending a demand letter is recommended because filing a case and resolving it in court often takes time. Also, collecting funds after prevailing in court can take more time and is not guaranteed. If there is a chance you can resolve the case without filing in small claims court, it is a worthwhile step to take. 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).
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 Henderson County, you can file the case here.
Small Claims Court Trial Preparation
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. 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.
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
- repossessions of personal property that was leased or purchased on credit
- garnishment case against a debtor
The most amount of money that a court can award in small claims court is $10,000 (plus court costs and fees).
Small Claims Court in Henderson County
Small claims court is a special type of civil court where a party can file a case for $10,000 or less. Small claims court in Henderson 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.
How do I serve a party?
After a complaint is filed, the next step is for the plaintiff to affect service of the complaint on the defendant(s). An individual can be served at their address. 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. This information can be obtained online at the Illinois Secretary of State website.
After the Small Claims Court Hearing
If the judge rules in favor of the plaintiff, the judge can issue an order or judgment awarding the plaintiff monetary damages. 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.
Who hears my case in Henderson County Small Claims Court
In Illinois, a small claims court case can be heard in front of a judge or a jury. You are encouraged to consult with an attorney prior to requesting 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.