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.
Small Claims Court Locations for Shelby County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Shelby County Courthouse 301 E. Main Street Shelbyville, IL 62565
The circuit court clerk takes care of all documents and files for court cases. The circuit clerk’s address is:P.O. Box 469 Shelbyville, Illinois 62565-0469
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 217-774-4212
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 217-774-4109
Does a Judge or Jury hear my case in Shelby County Small Claims Court?
Shelby 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.
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 filing the complaint to begin the court case 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 Shelby County 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. A corporation is not required to be represented by an attorney in small claims court. If a defendant is a corporate entity, only certain officers or members of the corporation are allowed to represent it.
Small Claims Court in Shelby County
Small claims court is a special type of civil court where a party can file a case for $10,000 or less. Small claims court in Shelby 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.
Small Claims Court Trial Preparation
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). If there are any people who observed anything in your case, it is important to invite them to court to provide testimony at the trial. 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 witness refuses to come to court, you will need to prepare and serve a subpoena for the witness’s attendance.
What Types of Cases are handled in Shelby 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 most amount of money that a court can award in small claims court is $10,000 (plus court costs and fees).
Serving a Party in Shelby County Small Claims Court
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. A plaintiff should visit the Illinois Secretary of State website to obtain the addresses for the corporate entity (and registered agents).
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. 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.
Am I Able to Have an Attorney 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.
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 simply a letter spelling out clearly and concisely what your case is and why you feel you are entitled to monetary damages. 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. Additionally, putting down your case in clear words is something a plaintiff will have to do anyways when a complaint is filed (and certainly done in preparation for the trial).
What to Expect at a Shelby 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 court will also listen to any witness testimony and exhibits (documents) provided by either side. The court will hear evidence from the plaintiff first. The defendant puts on its side of the case once the plaintiff has finished. It is imperative that you speak slowly and clearly for the judge to be able to understand your side of the case. 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).