Types of Small Claims Court Cases
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
A small claims court can only award a party $10,000 (plus court costs and fees).
Small Claims Court Trial Preparation
A party preparing for a small claims court trial should prepare the case to make a clear, understandable presentation to a judge. 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 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). You should also take steps to secure the attendance of any witnesses that have information to help your case. 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 person refuses to come to court, you may need to take steps to issue a subpoena for them to attend.
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. 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.
Filing a Small Claims Case in Scott County Court
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 Scott County, you can file the case here.
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. If someone is under eighteen, the court may appoint a guardian to act on behalf of the minor. The court does require that any corporation acting as a plaintiff in small claims court 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 Scott County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Scott County Courthouse 101 E. Market Street Winchester, IL 62694
The circuit court clerk takes care of all documents and files for court cases. The circuit clerk’s address is:35 East Market Street Winchester, Illinois 62694-1216
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 217-742-5217
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 217-742-5853
Beginning a Scott County 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. Sending a demand letter is recommended because filing a case and resolving it in court often takes time. Additionally, collection of any court award takes additional time and is never guaranteed. Drafting and sending a demand letter allows for both parties to explore the possibility of a settlement even before a case is filed. 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).
Can I 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.
How do I file a case in small claims court?
A small claims court case begins with a party filing a document called the complaint. A small claims complaint can be obtained at the court clerk’s office. 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.
How do I serve a party?
After filing the complaint, the plaintiff needs to arrange for it to be served. An individual can be served at their address. 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.
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 witness testimony and will review exhibits offered by either the plaintiff or the defendant. The plaintiff presents their side 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).
Scott County Small Claims Court
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.
Does a Scott County Small Claims Court Jury or Judge?
In Scott 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. 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. Requesting a jury trial also has additional costs for the party making the request.