SMALL CLAIMS - FAQ's
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
Is there a fee to serve the papers?
Yes, the fee for certified mail is $16.00 per defendant. Please contact the Sheriff's Office for their service fees. Their phone number is 847.377.4400. Private process servers set their own fees.
Do you have to appoint a process server?
If your server does not have a license, they must be appointed. The Motio 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 given 14-40 days from the date the case is filed. This court date is also called the "return date".
Am I required to appear in court on the return date?
The clerk cannot advise you as to whether you need to come to court on the return date. Only a judge or an attorney is qualified to explain what options are available to you. If the defendant appears in court, the judge will set a trial date 14 days from the return date. If neither the plaintiff nor the defendant appears, the case will be set for 90 days from the return date for DWP (Dismissed for Want of Prosecution).
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.
Can I bring an attorney to court with me?
Yes, you may hire an attorney at any time. The attorney will know what must be filed to represent you.
How long do I have to file a case?
This is a question that can only be answered by an attorney. The clerk does not have knowledge of the law and cannot answer this question for you.