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. In the State of Illinois, a corporate entity can be served on a corporation’s office or its 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 Types of Cases are handled in White 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).
Locations for Small Claims Court in White County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:White County Courthouse 301 E. Main Street,
P.O. Box 310Carmi, IL 62821
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:P.O. Box 310 Carmi, Illinois 62821-0310
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 618-382-2321
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 618-382-2322
White County Small Claims Court
Small claims court in White County is a unique type of court where a plaintiff can file a case in an amount of $10,000 or less. Small claims court has much simpler rules and procedures and is designed to try cases faster.
How to Prepare for a Small Claims Court Trial
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. 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. 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). Witnesses who support your side of the case should also be invited to court to provide testimony during 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 person refuses to come to court, you may need to take steps to issue a subpoena for them to attend.
Beginning a White 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. 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. If there is a chance you can resolve the case without filing in small claims court, it is a worthwhile step to take. 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).
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 someone is under eighteen, the court may appoint a guardian to act on behalf of the minor. If a corporation sues in small claims court, they will need to be represented by an attorney. However, if a corporation is acting as a defendant, it is allowed to be represented by certain members of the corporation.
Am I Able to 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.
Can I file a case in White 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.
Does a White County Small Claims Court Jury or Judge?
White 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
To begin a small claims case, the party needs to file a document with the court clerk called a complaint. A small claims complaint can be obtained at the court clerk’s office. The party filing the complaint is called the plaintiff. The party that the plaintiff is trying to recover money from is called the defendant.
After the Small Claims Court Hearing
If the court rules in favor of the plaintiff, it will issue a judgment of monetary damages. 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.
What to Expect at a White County 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 court will also listen to any witness testimony and exhibits (documents) provided by either side. Plaintiffs present their side of the case first. Defendants present their case once the plaintiffs have finished presenting its case. It is important to speak clearly and slowly so that the judge can understand you. 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.