Illinois Small Claims Court

If you are involved in a legal conflict and are seeking money damages or restoration of property worth less than $10,000, you may file your lawsuit in Illinois small claims court. Small claims court is a straightforward process designed to reduce paperwork, fees, and hassle for those with relatively uncomplicated claims, and is a good option for business owners and individuals involved in disputes over property, personal injury, landlord/tenant issues, and contractual obligations. While you may represent yourself in Illinois small claims court, you may also choose to have an attorney represent you there; corporations must opt for an attorney in Illinois. If you wish to file a small claim in Illinois small claims court, you will be the plaintiff in your case. The individual or business entity you file against is known as the defendant.

Claim Limit: In Illinois, claims under $10,000 in total value are eligible for small claims consideration.

Where to File: Illinois residents should file either in the county where they reside or in the county in which the injury or breach of contract occurred. In Illinois, county courts handle small claims.

Cases Handled: Small claims cases must be under $10,000 in value. Common types of small claims cases involve evictions or tenant/landlord disputes, damages associated with car accidents or minor personal injury, contractual disputes, failure to pay or to return property, and failure to authorize garnishment or repay debts.

Filing Eligibility: Individuals at least 18 years old and business entities, such as corporations, partnerships or companies, may file in Illinois small claims court. If the plaintiff is under 18 years of age, he or she must have a parent or legal guardian file the small claim on his or her behalf.

Forms and Filing: To initiate a small claim in Illinois, you must go to the courthouse and fill out a Complaint and Summons. These forms require information such as full addresses and names for plaintiff and defendant, the amount of damages sought, and details of why the case is being brought. The clerk will issue a case number and hearing date once you pay the filing fee and file the paperwork; you must then hire a process server or cause a copy of the summons and complaint to be delivered to the defendant before the hearing occurs.

Help with Illinois Small Claims: The clerk of the court and the law librarian may not be allowed to give you advice on which, if any, forms to file and other details of your case. If you try and it turns out they can’t help, you may wish to seek the advice of an Illinois small claims attorney or help from your local legal aid society when filing your Illinois small claim. The Illinois State Bar Association is a good starting point for individuals with questions about the Illinois small claims process.

For more state-specific information and links to your state's small claims court resources, see Small Claims Court Information and Links.