So many people are victimized in little ways — a friend won’t repay a loan; a repairman leaves a hole in your drywall; you can’t get a refund for shoddy merchandise that you paid good money for, etc. When you can’t find a lawyer to help, because there is not enough money involved, you can do it yourself by going to small claims court and fighting the injustice yourself — without an attorney!
People can be victimized in many ways; a friend won’t repay a loan; a repairman damages your home during repair work or you can’t get a refund for purchased shoddy merchandise. You can’t find a lawyer to handle such claims because the amount of money involved is not enough to warrant retaining a lawyer. You can fight such injustices by going to Small Claims Court and handling the matter on your own. The Small Claims Court process is designed so that individuals can act as their own lawyer and seek justice.
Types of Small Claims Cases
It is important to identify what type of small claims case you have. These categories include written contracts, property damage, verbal contracts, improper repair or injury to the person. Each type of claim requires specific types of evidence for proof. A small claims complaint for Lake County can be found on the website for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit (www.19thcircuitcourt.state.il.us) which anyone can access and fill out.
Example of a Small Claims Case
An illustration of one type of Small Claims case is a defective or improper repair. The elements of an improper repair case include an agreement for a repair, improper repair and payment for the repair work. Proof of these elements is needed to show the Court and proof can be shown by testimony about the agreement or the agreement document itself to prove there was an agreement. Improper repair can be proved with photographs or testimony about the shoddy work. Finally, payment can be established by a cancelled check for the work done or testimony about the payment. The defendant in such a case can rebut this proof with evidence that there was no agreement, that the work was proper and/or the defendant never was paid.
Procedure for Filing a Small Claims Complaint
As stated previously, the complaint form for small claims can be found on the website for the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit. In addition to the complaint, a summons form is also needed (which can also be located on the website). The small claims summons notifies the defendant that he/she is being sued, the date to come into Court and the trial date. The service of summons on a defendant gives the defendant notice as well as an opportunity to be heard. Moreover, the service of summons gives the Court authority to issue judgment upon the defendant.
Fear of Small Claims Court
People have a greater fear of public speaking than of almost anything else. However, people should not be intimidated about going to trial in a small claims court. The setting for these claims is much more conversational than what is seen in a courtroom drama on television. With a little preparation, anyone can seek justice for themselves in a small claims courtroom.
Robert Monahan, Esq. is a lawyer in Gurnee, IL with his own practice in personal injury. He has a radio show on Thursday nights at 7 pm, called “Everyday Law,” on WRLR 98.3 FM, where he tries to demystify the law for the ordinary person. “Everyday Law” can be downloaded as a podcast from iTunes or other various podcatchers. His two websites are www.monahanfirm.com and www.gurneepersonalinjuryattorney.com. He also has two Facebook pages – “Robert A. Monahan, Esq.” and “Everyday Law.”