What do I need to file a small claims case?
You will need a Complaint, Summons and a blank Appearance Form. Please have the original and three copies of the Complaint and Summons when you file your case. If you are suing more than one person, you will need an extra complaint and summons. You may obtain the Complaint, Summons and Appearance from our website or in person at our office.
How do I serve the papers?
There are three ways you can attempt service.
- Certified mail through the Clerk of the Circuit Court
- Sheriff of Lake County
- Private Process Server
Do you have to appoint a process server?
If your server does not have a license, they must be appointed. The Motion and Order to Appoint a Process Server may be obtained from our website or in person at our office. If your server has a license, they do not need to be appointed.
How soon can I get a court date?
Court dates are:
14-40 days for a service address in Lake County
30-40 days for a service address out of Lake County
40-60 days for a service address out of the State of Illinois.
This court date is also called the "return date".
How do I know if the defendant was served?
You can call the clerk at 847.377.3226 to find out if the defendant was served. Please have your case number available when you call. If the sheriff has served the summons for you, they will also be able to provide you with the service information. Their phone number is 847.377.4000.
I have been awarded a money judgment. How do I collect my money?
Please review the Common Collection Sheet
. This is an outline of the options you have to choose from based on what you know about the person you are suing.
What is an alias summons and is there a fee?
If the defendant is not served with the first summons, another summons must be issued. This is called an alias summons. The fee for an alias summons is $5.00.
When can I use the Small Claims Court?
When asking for a judgment of $10,000.00 or less. The Small Claims Court can order a judgment only for money. It cannot require a person or business to perform a service or stop a certain action or to return property.
In which county do I file my claim?
Generally, you must file your small claim in the county where 1) the defendant resides, or 2) where the events happened which you believe give you the right to sue, e.g. where the accident occurred, contract was signed or leased premises located.
I've been sued. What do I do?
If you are sued, you will be notified when you receive a copy of the Small Claim Complaint and Summons in one of two ways.
The complaint will tell you the reason you are being sued and the amount claimed. The summons will tell you when and where to file your "Appearance" if you contest the claim. Either show up in court or file an appearance before the court date on the summons.
When sued, you may choose to do any one of the following things:
1. Admit you owe the plaintiff all of the amount claimed.
2. Deny you owe the plaintiff all or part of the amount claimed by filing an "Appearance" with the clerk before the "Return Day" and mailing a copy to the plaintiff.
3. File a lawsuit against the plaintiff called a counterclaim if you believe the plaintiff owes you money in connection with the reason he claims you owe him the money.
4. Settle the dispute out of court.
If you contest the plaintiff's claim in whole or in part, you must file an "Appearance" with the Clerk of the Circuit Court and pay the "Appearance" fee before the "Return day". The trial is automatically set for the 14th day after the "Return Day," at the same time (9:00 a.m. or 1:30 p.m.) as the summons was returnable. On the trial day a judge will listen to both sides of the case and render a decision.
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