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Jonathan Rosenfeld
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July 15, 2023

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small claims court Chicago

Are you in a legal dispute but don’t want to go through the lengthy and expensive process of hiring a lawyer? Small claims court in Chicago can be an excellent option for resolving disputes quickly and inexpensively.

In Chicago, the small claims court provides an accessible and straightforward way for individuals to resolve their disputes without representation.

The personal injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you hold the defendant accountable by filing a compensation claim to pay your damages. Contact us at (888) 424-5757 or use the contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.

What is Small Claims Court?

Small claims court is designed to handle disputes between individuals or businesses over small amounts of money or property damage. In Cook County, these court cases generally involves claims of $10,000 or less.

The purpose of this court is to provide an accessible and affordable way for individuals to resolve legal disputes without needing a lawyer.

Unlike other court proceedings, small claims court cases are typically resolved quickly and with simplified rules, allowing parties to represent themselves without needing a lawyer. This process creates a cost-effective option to resolve small amounts of money disputes.

Who Can File a Small Claims Case?

In Illinois, individuals and businesses can file a small claims case as long as the claim falls within the monetary limits of the court. To file a small claims case, a person must first obtain the necessary forms from the court clerk at the county courthouse.

The plaintiff must then fill out the complaint forms, pay the required filing fee to the clerk, and serve the necessary documents to the defendant. The filing fees for small claims in the county are currently $307 for claims of $5,000 or less and $381 for claims between $5,001 and $10,000.

In addition to filing fees, there may be additional fees for serving the necessary summons or certified mail if the defendant lives outside Illinois. The other party can file the summons and complaint at any branch courthouse in Cook County, including the Daley Center.

What Types of Disputes are Heard in Small Claims Court?

Small claims courts can hear various disputes, including claims related to unpaid rent, property damage, or disputes over consumer goods. However, some claims, such as those involving libel or slander, cannot be heard in small claims.

This court is designed to handle relatively straightforward disputes that can be resolved quickly and with simplified rules. If the dispute is too complex or involves legal issues beyond the scope of small claims, it may be necessary to file the case in a different court.

In addition to monetary claims, small claims cases are related to personal injury. However, there are limits on the number of damages that can be awarded in these cases. In Cook County, the maximum damages awarded in a small claims personal injury case is $6,000.

How Do You File a Small Claims Case?

A person must first obtain all forms from the court clerk to file a small claims case against the other party. The forms will typically include a complaint form, a summons form, and instructions on completing and filing the forms.

The person filing must pay the required filing fee and serve the necessary complaint, contract, and summons documents to the defendant. Once the forms are completed and filed, the court will set a hearing date, and the plaintiff and defendant will be notified of the date and time of the hearing.

The person filing a case must follow all of the court’s rules and procedures, as failing to do so can result in the case being dismissed.

What Happens in a Small Claims Court Hearing?

In a small claims court hearing, the plaintiff and defendant can present their arguments and any evidence they have to support their case. The judge will listen to both sides of the dispute and review any evidence presented.

The judge will then make a decision based on the evidence presented. Unlike other court proceedings, there is no trial in small claims with jurors. Instead, the judge serves as the fact-finder and decision-maker in the case.

The decision made by the judge is final and binding, and there is typically no appeal process. If the defendant owes the plaintiff money after the decision, the plaintiff may need to take additional legal action to collect the money judgment.

Civil Courts vs. Small Claims Courts

Small claims courtrooms handle disputes involving relatively small amounts of money. At the same time, civil court is designed to handle more complex disputes that may involve larger amounts of money or property.

Alternatively, civil court proceedings can involve more formal procedures and rules, and parties may require an attorney. If the dispute cannot be resolved in small claims, filing the case in civil court may be necessary.

Small Claims Court Sessions

Court sessions are typically held regularly, with cases heard by a judge in a courtroom. While some cases may be settled outside of court through mediation or negotiation, many cases will ultimately be heard before a judge. These court sessions are open to the public.

Court Costs in Small Claims Lawsuits

Filing a small claims lawsuit involves costs such as the filing and additional fees for serving the necessary summons or certified mail if the defendants live outside Illinois. Considering these costs is essential when deciding whether to file a small claims lawsuit.

Small Claims Cases and Courtroom Proceedings

Small claims proceedings are less formal than other court proceedings, but rules and procedures must be followed. Preparing thoroughly and presenting a clear and compelling case to achieve a successful outcome is essential.

Jury Trial and Small Claims Court

Unlike other court proceedings, there is no jury trial in small claims court. Instead, the judge serves as the fact-finder and decision-maker in the case. It can lead to a quicker and more efficient dispute resolution, but the judge’s decision is final and binding, and there is typically no appeal process.

How an Attorney Can Help with Your Illinois Complaint Lawsuit

Were you or a loved one harmed by a landlord, corporation, or another party? If so, our injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC can help you seek the compensation you deserve.

Our attorneys are experienced in handling various injury cases, including those involving slip and fall accidents, car accidents, and medical malpractice.

You can benefit from their legal knowledge and expertise by hiring an attorney. Contact us today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation and learn more.

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