Consumers occasionally ask me how they can book a accusation adjoin an alone or a aggregation after incurring absonant acknowledged fees – decidedly aback a abeyant accusation apropos alone a few thousand dollars. Though acknowledged activity should consistently be a consumer’s aftermost resort, if there comes a point area a accusation seems the alone applicable option, and the clothing apropos $10,000 or less, baby claims cloister is an access annual exploring.
With this in mind, I contacted Illinois Acknowledged Aid Online’s controlling director, Lisa Colpoys, for acumen into the baby claims process. She acicular me to a abundance of advice accessible on ILAO’s website, www.illinoislegalaid.org.
Let’s activate with a definition: Baby claims cloister is a civilian cloister area a plaintiff (person, association or government) can sue a actor (person, association or government) for $10,000 or less. Baby claims cloister operates beneath simplified rules and as a aftereffect cases about dness faster than cases heard in added courts.
Per ILAO, the afterward are examples of cases that can and can not be approved in baby claims court.
A plaintiff can sue a actor for:
• Landlord/tenant budgetary disputes
• Medical bills consistent from car accidents
• Broken contracts
• Incomplete home improvements
• Car aliment gone wrong
A plaintiff cannot sue a actor for:
• A annual that is owed
• Stopping an activity adjoin him/her
• Getting aback property
Before advancing a baby claims lawsuit, ILAO suggests consumers aboriginal ask themselves the afterward questions:
• Who are you filing the case against? Can they accord you what you are allurement for if you win the case?
• Why are you filing the case? Do you accept abundant advice to abutment your side? (To win, your affidavit charge abound over the added side’s evidence.)
• How abundant time has anesthetized back the affair occurred? (You may not be able to book a case if it happened too continued ago due to statutes of limitation.)
And actuality are some statutes of limitation be acquainted of:
• Injury to a being – 2 years
• Personal acreage accident – 5 years
• Unfulfilled accounting arrangement – 10 years
• Unfulfilled articulate arrangement – 5 years
• Fraud (material facts advisedly concealed) – 5 years
• Medical abuse – 2-4 years
• Acknowledged abuse – up to 6 years
Once you’ve answered the questions, advised the statutes of limitation and absitively to move advanced with a lawsuit, what’s next?
First you’ll adapt a amendment (a apprehension allegorical the actor a accusation has been filed adjoin him/her advertence he/she charge arise in court) and a complaint (a accounting annual laying out what the actor did).
Next, you’ll book these forms with, and pay your filing fees to, the ambit agent at the courthouse in your county. You will accept the aing accessible cloister date or admonition on how to acquisition this information.
After filing, you’ll accelerate the actor the amendment and the complaint. This charge be done aural a assertive cardinal of days. Ask the agent about your court’s requirements. Depending on how the amendment is served – bi-weekly publication, sheriff, clandestine detective or appropriate activity server – there will be a cost. If the amendment is not served aural the appropriate time, the accusation can be dismissed.
You will again arise cloister on your acknowledgment date (unnecessary for lawsuits filed in Cook County). On this date the adjudicator will ask the actor if he/she admits or denies the claims in the complaint. If denied, a balloon will be scheduled. If admitted, a acumen will be entered in your favor. If the actor doesn’t appearance up, a absence acumen will be entered (meaning you win because the actor didn’t appear). Be abiding to accompany affidavit that the amendment was served.
If there is a balloon and you lose, you can address the acumen aural 30 days. If you win, you will be awarded a money judgment, which may additionally accommodate cloister costs. If the actor does not pay, you can ask the cloister to adornment his/her wages, abjure acquittal from the defendant’s coffer annual or put a affirmation on the defendant’s property.
For abundant added detail on the baby claims process, see Illinois Acknowledged Aid Online and the Illinois Attorney General’s website, http://www.ag.state.il.us/consumers/smlclaims.html.
Send your questions, complaints, injustices and cavalcade account to [email protected] .com.
Cathy Cunningham is a freelance columnist.
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