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How to Take Someone to Small Claims Court Without a Lawyer in Illinois

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Understanding the Basics of Small Claims Court

In Illinois, initiating a small claims case involves filing a complaint with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. The complaint form is available on the Illinois Courts Website. In Illinois, the amount the plaintiff seeks to recover cannot exceed $10,000.


Key Terms to Know

Plaintiff: The person or entity initiating the lawsuit.
Defendant: The person being sued.

To complete the complaint form, the plaintiff must know the defendant’s full name, address, and phone number. The form also requires a brief explanation of why the defendant owes the plaintiff money. In certain counties, the complaint must be signed by the plaintiff and notarized by a Notary Public or the Clerk of the Court.


Filing the Complaint

Step-by-Step Process

1. Obtain and Complete the Complaint Form

  • Available on the Illinois Courts Website.
  • Include the defendant’s full name, address, phone number, and a brief explanation of the claim.

2. Prepare the Summons

  • Available on the Illinois Courts Website.
  • Informs the defendant they are being sued and details when and where to respond.
  • The court issues the summons via certified mail or personal service by the sheriff’s department.

3. Make Copies

  • Obtain three copies of the complaint and summons.
  • These can be filed electronically or submitted at the Clerk’s office.

4. File the Complaint and Summons

  • Filing fees vary by county, and the amount being sued for typically ranges from $89 to $379.
  • The clerk assigns a case number and court date upon filing.

How to Take Someone to Small Claims Court Without a Lawyer in Illinois


Preparing for Court

Setting the Court Date

  • Plaintiffs can choose a pre-selected court hearing date that suits their schedule.
  • The defendant must be served at least 21 days before the appearance date.


Presenting Your Case

  • Both parties present evidence to support their case.
  • The judge asks standard questions and allows both parties to speak.
  • The judge may enter a judgment or grant a continuance for a future appearance.


Representing Yourself

While it’s common practice for neither party to have an attorney in small claims court, handling the case independently is feasible with the straightforward process and detailed forms. An attorney is not required, but they can offer reassurance if needed.


Cape Law’s Support

If you need assistance with understanding the process or preparing your case, Cape Law is here to help. We provide guidance and support to ensure you feel confident representing yourself in small claims court.

We invite you to contact us for expert assistance in navigating the small claims court process in Illinois. Let us help you achieve a favorable outcome for your case.