Locations for Small Claims Court in Winnebago County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Winnebago County Courthouse 400 West State Street, Room 101 Rockford, IL 61101
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:400 West State Street Room 100 Rockford, Illinois 61101-1221
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 815-319-4500
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 815-987-3012
What kind of cases are handled in 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 cases
- repossessions of personal property that was leased or purchased on credit
- garnishment case against a debtor
The maximum judgment that can be allowed in small claims court is $10,000 (plus costs).
What happens after the Small Claims Court Trial?
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.
How to File a Small Claims Court Case
The plaintiff needs to file a document called a complaint with the court clerk. A blank complaint can be obtained through the court clerk’s office which is located inside of the courthouse. 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.
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. A corporation is not required to be represented by an attorney in small claims court. However, if a corporation is sued, it can be represented by certain officials at the company including an officer, manager, or registered agent.
Preparing for a Small Claims Court Hearing
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. 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 person refuses to come to court, you may need to take steps to issue a subpoena for them to attend.
What County Should a Small Claims Court Case be filed in?
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 Judge or Jury hear my case in Winnebago County Small Claims Court?
In Illinois, a small claims court case can be heard in front of a judge or a jury. It is highly recommended that a party consult with an attorney before asking for a jury trial. A jury trial (which can be in front of six or twelve jurors) is highly complex and requires significantly more preparation than a trial in front of a judge. Requesting a jury trial also has additional costs for the party making the request.
Small Claims Court in Winnebago County
In Winnebago County, small claims court allows a plaintiff to bring a case if the amount is $10,000 or less. Small claims court has much simpler rules and procedures and is designed to try cases faster.
What Happens at a 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. The plaintiff presents their side 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.
Am I Able to 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.
Service of a Winnebago County Small Claims Court Defendant
After a complaint is filed, the next step is for the plaintiff to affect service of the complaint on the defendant(s). Serving an individual is easy (if an address is known). But if the party is a corporate entity, it can be more difficult determining the correct procedure. 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.
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. 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 it is possible to settle your case before filing with the court, it is an option worth exploring. 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).