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. However, it can be more difficult finding a way to serve a corporate entity. Illinois allows for service of a corporate entity on the corporation’s office or registered agent. A plaintiff should visit the Illinois Secretary of State website to obtain the addresses for the corporate entity (and registered agents).
Small Claims Court in Randolph County
In Randolph County, small claims court allows a plaintiff to bring a case if the amount is $10,000 or less. Small claims court in Randolph 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 to Prepare for a Small Claims Court Trial
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. 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. Preparing a short chronology of the events in your case is helpful. 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). 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 attend the small claims court trial, then a subpoena for the witness’s attendance may be necessary.
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
- repossessions of personal property that was 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).
Before Filing a Small Claims Court Case in Randolph County
Prior to a party filing a case, you are encouraged to contact the defendant by drafting and 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. 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).
Can I have an attorney represent me in Small Claims Court?
You can represent yourself in small claims court or hire an attorney to represent you. However, when a corporate entity is the plaintiff in a case, it is required to be represented by an attorney.
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. 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 filing the complaint to begin the court case is called the plaintiff. The party being sued in the complaint is called the defendant.
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. The law in Illinois requires that an appeal from the judgment be filed within thirty days of the date the judgment is entered by the court.
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.
Small Claims Court Locations for Randolph County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Randolph County Courthouse #1 Taylor Street Chester, IL 62233
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:#1 Taylor Street Room 302 Chester, Illinois 62233-0329
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 618-826-5000
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 618-826-3761
Who hears my case in Randolph County Small Claims Court
In Randolph 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 is much more complex and difficult for a person to represent themselves in and requires substantially more preparation. Additionally, a jury trial costs additional money for the party requesting it.
What Happens at a Small Claims Court Trial
In a court trial, the judge will decide the facts of your case and will listen to the evidence provided by 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 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).