What happens after the Small Claims Court Trial?
If the court finds for the plaintiff, the court is able to issue a judgment which awards monetary damages to the plaintiff. 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.
Small Claims Court Locations for Saline County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Saline County Courthouse 10 East Poplar Street Harrisburg, IL 62946
The circuit court clerk takes care of all documents and files for court cases. The circuit clerk’s address is:10 East Poplar Street Harrisburg, Illinois 62946-1553
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 618-253-5096
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 618-253-3904
Who can Bring a Case in Saline 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). If an individual is under the age of majority (18), the court may appoint a guardian. A corporation is not required to be represented by an attorney in small claims court. However, if a corporation is sued, it can be represented by certain officials at the company including an officer, manager, or registered agent.
Serving a Party in Saline 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. 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. The Illinois Secretary of State website has additional information to allow you to search for addresses related to corporate entities and registered agents.
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 witness testimony and will review exhibits offered by either the plaintiff or the defendant. The court will hear evidence from the plaintiff first. Defendants present their case once the plaintiffs have finished presenting its case. 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 to be nervous when speaking in front of a judge, which is why we recommend that your practice talking about your case with another person before the actual trial.
What County Should a Small Claims Court Case be filed in?
Illinois law requires a small claims court case to be filed in the county where one of the defendants live or in 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.
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. 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. 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 witness refuses to come to court, you will need to prepare and serve a subpoena for the witness’s attendance.
Does a Judge or Jury hear my case in Saline County Small Claims Court?
Saline County allows for a small claims court case to be either a bench (judge) or jury trial. 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 is much more complex and difficult for a person to represent themselves in and requires substantially more preparation. Requesting a jury trial also has additional costs for the party making the request.
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. But, corporate entities that are the plaintiffs are required to be represented by an attorney.
Beginning a Saline County Small Claims Court Case
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. 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 it is possible to settle your case before filing with the court, it is an option worth exploring. 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).
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 cases
- 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 Saline County
In Saline County, small claims court allows a plaintiff to bring a case if the amount is $10,000 or less. Small claims court has much simpler rules and procedures and is designed to try cases faster.
How to File 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 that files the complaint is called the plaintiff. The party being sued in the complaint is called the defendant.