How to File a Small-Claims Lawsuit in Cook County
Posted by shark
inLegal Advice, Necessary Forms
The Sharks get lots of calls from clients asking about small cases. These are usually cases involving minor property damage or other small disputes between individuals and small businesses. In Cook County, small claims cases
are for cases involving less than $10,000.00. Slightly different rules apply to small claims cases, so would be wise to check out the rules for small claims cases here. The rules in small claims cases make the process (usually) faster than a regular case.
Like most firms, we simply don’t take small-claims cases. We get it, ten thousand dollars sounds like a lot of money – because it is! However, when you take into account the cost and time it takes to bring a case, it simply isn’t worth it for a firm to get involved in a case under $10,000.00.
Since we get so many of these calls the Sharks thought it would be a good idea to lay out some basics about filing your own small-claims case:
STEP 1 – See a lawyer first – Before you do anything, you should at least call a lawyer. Or two. You might not think your case has much value, but you might be wrong, and you’re always better off if you can hire a lawyer. If you can’t find a lawyer to take your case, move on to step 2.
STEP 2 – Prepare and file your Complaint – The Complaint is the document that starts the lawsuit. Go to the Daley Center at 50 West Washington in Chicago and pick up two forms: a Summons and a Complaint. You can also find the forms at the Clerk of Court’s website here. Take these forms and fill them out to the best of your ability. Take care to explain in short and clear language how you were wronged, what damages you suffered as a result, and what you would like the court to award you. Remember to keep it simple: legalese won’t help. Now would also be a good time to take a look at the rules in Illinois for small-claims cases, contained in the Illinois Supreme Court Rules. You’ll find them here. Take a look at rules 281-289.
STEP 3 – File the Summons and Complaint and pay the filing fee – Remember when we told you that lawsuits cost money? Well, here’s the big expense with a small claims case. You’ll have to pay a filing fee of between $227.00 and $247.00 depending on the amount you are claiming you are owed. You’ll need to file your completed Summons and Complaint with the clerk, who will stamp and keep the originals and will give you copies. You can file the summons and complaint at any of the Cook County branch courthouses, including the Daley Center. Here’s a link to the locations of each courthouse. You will want to file the complaint in the courthouse nearest where the Defendant lives or where the event at issue occurred.
STEP 4 – Send a copy of the Summons and Complaint to the defendant via certified mail. In small claims-cases you can pay a small fee to the clerk of court and they will mail the summons and complaint for you. Be sure that when you go to file your summons and complaint, you have enough copies for each defendant to be served, along with an original for the clerk and a copy for you to keep.
STEP 5 – You’ll be given an initial court date. Show up for court. Hopefully, the Defendant will show up as well. If so, will likely be given a trial date. Even if the Defendant doesn’t show, you will still need to appear in court.
Those are the basics. Of course, each case is different and nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. How do you WIN a small-claims case? That’s for another post.
View our previous blog post, Alexander Memmen Elected to Chicago Bar Foundation Young Professionals Board
June 27, 2018
While the United States-Mexico border might be thousands of miles from Chicago, the topic of immigration is one that hits close to home for Chicagoans. Last week, news broke that families were being separated at the Southern border. Children as...
June 14, 2018
Chicago is no stranger to test piloting new convenience based start-up companies. From being one of the first cities to use food delivery services like Grubhub and 24/7 laundry lockers like Pressbox, Chicagoans have shown huge interest in these new...
June 6, 2018
A recent decision by the Supreme Court means that sports fans will now have more opportunities to place legal bets on sports teams. On Monday, the Supreme Court voted 6-3 to end a 1992 law that deemed sports betting illegal...
May 17, 2018
This an an excerpt from the document, "Memorandum Opinion Enforcing Provisions of Sale Order With Respect to the Moore, Et Al. Plaintiffs". This dispute involves allegedly contaminated groundwater that migrated from property previously owned until July 2009 by General Motors...
May 16, 2018
Uber has announced its plans to change the legal process for sexual assault victims involving employees, drivers, and other riders. Before Tuesday, anybody that alleged sexual assault involving somebody related to Uber, were subject to a lengthy legal process. CNN...
May 8, 2018
Check out our recent mention in an article about a case we've taken on against General Motors. Click this link to read the full story.
May 8, 2018
Today, virtually everybody has an online presence. From Facebook, to Twitter, to Snapchat, social media has become a core part of our lives. People can use these platforms to document every second of their life, from who they’re with, to...
May 1, 2018
Uninsured motorists are more common than you think. According to a 2016 study, 13.7% of Illinois drivers, or about 1 in 8, were uninsured, ranking the state 18th for most uninsured motorists. Not only are uninsured motorists a threat to...
April 24, 2018
Office workers are exposed to more hazards than one might think. Workplace hazards come in many forms including slip-and-fall accidents, ergonomic hazards, poor indoor air quality, electrical fires, as well as many other dangers. It was reported in 2016 that...
April 18, 2018
Intense work load in the office can lead to distraction in your personal life. Often, when the workplace demands attention outside of work hours, this can take shape in the form of distracted driving. Employees can frequently find themselves using...