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.
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. 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. 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.
Serving a Party in Vermilion 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). However, it can be more difficult finding a way to serve a corporate entity. In the State of Illinois, a corporate entity can be served on a corporation’s office or its registered agent. This information can be obtained online at the Illinois Secretary of State website.
Does a Judge or Jury hear my case in Vermilion County Small Claims Court?
Vermilion 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. Additionally, a jury trial costs additional money for the party requesting it.
Filing a Small Claims Court Case
The plaintiff needs to file a document called a complaint with the court clerk. A small claims complaint can be obtained at the court clerk’s office. The party filing the complaint is called the plaintiff. The party being sued in the complaint is called the defendant.
Who can be a plaintiff in small claims court?
Any individual or corporation doing business in Illinois can both sue and be sued in small claims court. If an individual is under the age of majority (18), the court may appoint a guardian. The court does require that any corporation acting as a plaintiff in small claims court be represented by an attorney. However, if a corporation is sued, it can be represented by certain officials at the company including an officer, manager, or registered agent.
Vermilion County Small Claims Court Location
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Vermilion County Courthouse 7 N. Vermilion Danville, IL 61832–5879
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:7 North Vermilion St Danville, Illinois 61832-5806
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 217-554-7700
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 217-554-7728
What to Expect at a Vermilion 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. Plaintiffs present their side of the case first. The defendant presents their case after the plaintiff has concluded their presentation. 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. 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.
Small Claims Court Vermilion County
In Vermilion County, small claims court allows a plaintiff to bring a case if the amount is $10,000 or less. Small claims court in Vermilion 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.
What Types of Cases are handled in Vermilion 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).
Beginning a Vermilion 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 simply a letter spelling out clearly and concisely what your case is and why you feel you are entitled to monetary damages. 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. Drafting and sending a demand letter allows for both parties to explore the possibility of a settlement even before a case is filed. 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).
Is an Attorney Able to 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.
Can I file a case in Vermilion 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. For example, if your case involves a car accident and the car accident occurs in Vermilion County, you can file the case here.