What is Small Claims Court?

In Illinois, the small claims court is a place for the speedy trial of lawsuits seeking $10,000 or less. Filing and pretrial procedures are simplified compared to other lawsuits. However, the rules of law and evidence that apply to other lawsuits also apply to small claim trials. More

Filing a Small Claims Suit

To begin a small claims lawsuit go the circuit clerk's office at the courthouse in your county and get a complaint and summons. After you're finished filling out those forms, file them with the clerk and pay the standard filing fee. You'll then need to notify the defendant of the suit. More

Small Claims Trials

After your complaint has been filed and the defendant served, you need to prepare your case for court. Your proof must be more convincing than the other side's proof for you to win the case. Proof consists of the testimony of witnesses and physical evidence. Cases are heard by a circuit court judge. More

Witnesses at a Small Claims Trial

Witnesses are people who come to court to tell what they have seen or heard. They should have seen what happened or be experts on the subject matter of your claim. Before you bring witnesses to trial, discuss the case with potential witnesses and decide who can provide evidence in your favor. More

After Small Claims Court

Generally, the judge's decision will be announced at the end of a small claims trial. Whenever you lose in court, you have the right to request the court to reconsider its decision and you have the right to appeal the decision to a higher court within 30 days of the judge's decision. More

Collecting the Judgment

The court can award you a judgment but enforcing the judgment is your responsibility. The court doesn't force the defendant to pay what is owed you. If the losing party doesn't pay the judgment within 30 days, the winning party may begin legal collection proceedings. More

Alternatives to Small Claims Court

Before you file a claim, look for a solution outside of court because you may be able to negotiate a mutually beneficial compromise. If any party requests a jury, the case is referred to court-annexed mandatory arbitration for a hearing before a trial is scheduled. More

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