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 blank complaint can be obtained by contacting the court clerk’s office. The party filing the complaint is called the plaintiff. The defendant is the term that refers to the party being sued in the complaint.
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. If a defendant is a corporate entity, only certain officers or members of the corporation are allowed to represent it.
Beginning a Perry County Small Claims Court Case
It is strongly recommended to send a demand letter to the defendant before filing a small claims court case. 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). 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. If there is a chance you can resolve the case without filing in small claims court, it is a worthwhile step to take. 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).
Locations for Small Claims Court in Perry County
Small Claims Court cases are heard at:Perry County Government Building P.O. Box 219 Pinckneyville, IL 62274
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 219 Pinckneyville, Illinois 62274-0219
The clerk’s phone number for the court is: 618-357-6726
The clerk’s fax number for the court is: 618-357-8336
Can I have an attorney represent me in Small Claims Court?
Plaintiffs and Defendants can either represent themselves or use an attorney. However, when a corporate entity is the plaintiff in a case, it is required to be represented by an attorney.
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. In Illinois, a corporation can be served on either an office of the corporation or its registered agent. A plaintiff should visit the Illinois Secretary of State website to obtain the addresses for the corporate entity (and registered agents).
What Types of Cases are handled in Perry County Small Claims Court?
Only the following types of cases can be filed in small claims court under Illinois law:
- breach of contract
- property damage
- personal injury
- 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).
Does a Judge or Jury hear my case in Perry County Small Claims Court?
In Perry County, a small claims trial may be in front of a jury or a judge. 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. Also, if you are the party making the request for a jury trial, you will incur additional costs associated with the jury trial.
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. 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 County Should a Small Claims Court Case be filed in?
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 Perry County, you can file the case here.
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. You should gather and bring anything that can support your side of the case including photographs, contracts, receipts, invoices, or other documents. It is useful to prepare a short chronology of the dates and times of the events in your case. 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. Ensure the witness is aware of the exact date, time, and location of your small claims court case. If the person refuses to come to court, you may need to take steps to issue a subpoena for them to attend.
Perry County Small Claims Court
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 Perry 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 to Expect at a Perry 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 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. 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).