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. 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.
Can I file a case in Mercer County?
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 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 defendant is the term that refers to the party being sued in the complaint.
Who can Bring a Case in Mercer County 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. 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.
What kind of cases are handled in 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
- repossession of personal property leased or purchased on credit
- garnishment actions brought against debtors
A small claims court can only award a party $10,000 (plus court costs and fees).
Does a Judge or Jury hear my case in Mercer County Small Claims Court?
In Mercer 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. 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. Also, if you are the party making the request for a jury trial, you will incur additional costs associated with the jury trial.
What to Expect at a Mercer 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 court will hear evidence from the plaintiff first. The defendant presents their case after the plaintiff has concluded their presentation. It is imperative that you speak slowly and clearly for the judge to be able to understand your side of the case. 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.
Serving a Party in Mercer County Small Claims Court
After a complaint is filed in court, it needs to be served on the party. Serving an individual is easy (if an address is known). 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. The Illinois Secretary of State website has additional information to allow you to search for addresses related to corporate entities and registered agents.
Beginning a Mercer County 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. 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. 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).
Small Claims Court Locations for Mercer County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Mercer County Courthouse P.O. Box 66 Aledo, IL 61231
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:100 Southeast 3rd Street Aledo, Illinois 61231-0175
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 309-582-7122
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 309-582-7121
Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing
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. Bring documents, photographs, contracts, receipts, or anything else that supports your position. It is useful to prepare a short chronology of the dates and times of the events in your case. The court will pay particular attention to details including times, dates, value of damages so it is critical to have these details noted and documented ahead of time (and even including them in your complaint). You should also take steps to secure the attendance of any witnesses that have information to help your case. You should make sure any witness you need is aware of the location of the court (including courtroom number) and the time and date of the trial. If the person refuses to come to court, you may need to take steps to issue a subpoena for them to attend.
Small Claims Court in Mercer County
In Mercer 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.
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.