After the Small Claims Court Hearing
If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff, it will issue a judgment of monetary damages. Illinois law requires that either party wishing to appeal the judgment in small claims court needs to be filed the appeal within thirty days of the date the judgment is entered by the court.
Locations for Small Claims Court in Washington County
In Washington County, Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Washington County Courthouse 101 E. St. Louis Street Nashville, IL 62263
The circuit court clerk takes care of all documents and files for court cases. The circuit clerk’s address is:125 E. Elm Street Nashville, Illinois 62263-1100
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 618-327-4800
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 618-327-3583
Small Claims Court in Washington County
In Washington County, small claims court allows a plaintiff to bring a case if the amount is $10,000 or less. Small claims court in Washington 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 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. Plaintiffs present their side of the case 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.
How do I file a case in small claims court?
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 that files the complaint is called the plaintiff. The party that the plaintiff is trying to recover money from is called the defendant.
Who can sue in 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. If a defendant is a corporate entity, only certain officers or members of the corporation are allowed to represent it.
Does a Judge or Jury hear my case in Washington County Small Claims Court?
In Illinois, a small claims court case can be heard in front of a judge or a jury. 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.
What Types of Cases are handled in Washington 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
A small claims court can only award a party $10,000 (plus court costs and fees).
Beginning a Washington County Small Claims Court Case
Before a party files a case in small claims court, it is recommended to contact the party directly by sending a demand letter. Demand letters are a written summary explaining the facts surrounding your case and why you are entitled to money (which should be drafted in a polite, clear, concise way). A demand letter is ideal because it takes time for a case to make its way through the courts toward a resolution. Additionally, collection of funds after winning a judgment is not a guarantee. 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).
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. 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. This information can be obtained online at the Illinois Secretary of State website.
Can I file a case in Washington County?
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 the case involved property damage, the case could be filed in the county where the property is located.
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. You should gather and bring anything that can support your side of the case including photographs, contracts, receipts, invoices, or other documents. Preparing a short chronology of the events in your case is helpful. 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. 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.
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, corporations acting as plaintiffs are required to be represented by an attorney.