What Types of Cases are handled in Massac County Small Claims Court?
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 actions brought against debtors
The maximum judgment that can be allowed in small claims court is $10,000 (plus costs).
Small Claims Court Massac 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
It is strongly recommended to send a demand letter to the defendant before filing a small claims court case. 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. 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. 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).
Small Claims Court Locations for Massac County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Massac County Courthouse 1 Superman Square Metropolis, IL 62960
The circuit court clerk takes care of all documents and files for court cases. The circuit clerk’s address is:101 W. 8th Street, Room 2D Metropolis, Illinois 62960
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 618-524-5011
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 618-524-4850
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.
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. 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.
Serving a Party in Massac County Small Claims Court
After filing the complaint, the plaintiff needs to arrange for it to be served. Serving an individual is easy (if an address is known). Service of a corporate entity can be slightly more complex. 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.
Filing a Small Claims Case in Massac County Court
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. In the case of a traffic collision, it would be the county where the traffic collision occurred.
How to Prepare for a Small Claims Court Trial
A party preparing for a small claims court trial should prepare the case to make a clear, understandable presentation to a judge. 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). Witnesses who support your side of the case should also be invited to court to provide testimony during 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.
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.
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 through the court clerk’s office which is located inside of the courthouse. The party that files the complaint is called the plaintiff. The party being sued in the complaint is called the defendant.
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 court will also listen to any witness testimony and exhibits (documents) provided by either side. Plaintiffs present their side of the case first. The defendant puts on its side of the case once the plaintiff has finished. 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).
Who hears my case in Massac County Small Claims Court
In Illinois, a small claims court case can be heard in front of a judge or a jury. It is highly recommended that a party consult with an attorney before asking for 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.