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If you’re owed money for a job you performed or for unpaid rent, and that amount is under $10,000, you can take action by filing a small claims suit. These types of disputes are handled a little differently than a typical lawsuit, and they are heard in what’s called Small Claims Court. Since you’re not required to have a lawyer for small claims court and the process often involves a he-said, she-said type of disagreement, it’s not uncommon for someone with a strong case to make a mistake and tank their case. In today’s blog, we’re going to share five mistakes that are commonly made in small claims court so you have a better chance of winning your case.

Avoid These Small Claims Court Mistakes

Here’s a look at some of the mistakes and the reasons why these mistakes are made in small claims court in Illinois.

  • Failing To Consider Your Options Before Court – We’re all for helping people get what they rightfully deserve in court, but there’s a chance you don’t need to get the court involved at all. Don’t rush into a small claims suit because you’re angry without exploring other options. You may be able to settle it behind closed doors or with the help of a mediator without involving the court system.
  • Failing To Organize Your Case – You might think that it’s pretty clear that the contractor failed to uphold their end of the deal, but simply showing up to court and saying you didn’t like the work they performed may not cut it. Take time to collect evidence, take pictures, get copies of contracts or receipts, document dates and conversations and really organize your case. The judge can’t read your mind, so make your case as clear as possible.
  • Not Hiring A Lawyer – You don’t need a lawyer to win in small claims court, but it certainly helps. We offer free case consultations where you can sit down with a lawyer and talk about your legal options, and we’ll be honest about whether or not you should move forward on your own or if you’ll want a professional by your side. As you can see, sometimes having us by your side can help you win your civil case without even needing to present your case!
  • Underestimating Your Opponent – Your landlord or that contractor you hired may be a real piece of work, but that doesn’t mean you should assume they’ll also be terrible in court. If they are more prepared or if they have a lawyer on their side, they stand a good chance of winning, even if you disagree with their arguments. Make sure you or your lawyer out-prepare the other side.
  • Not Documenting All Expenses – You’re going to civil court to collect a sum of money, and while you may have a clear case that you’re owed money, you also have to prove exactly how much you’re owed. The judge will have final say in the judgement, so make sure that all your receipts are clear and that you provide tangible evidence for any financial losses you’re claiming occurred as a result of the other party’s actions. Again, a lawyer can help with this part.

At the end of the day, you can pursue a small claims case on your own, but they can get complex and confusing in a hurry, and many people wish they would have hired a lawyer. Like we said above, take a little time out of your day to meet with us, go over the basics of your case and come to an understanding of your next best move. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain, so contact Brett and the experienced civil lawyers at Appelman Law today.

If you have a legal dispute with someone in which the total amount of damages sought is less than $10,000, you can have the matter settled in what’s known as small claims court. If you were struck by someone backing out of the grocery store and want them to cover your medical bills, or if someone failed to uphold their end of a contract, you can seek compensation in small claims court. However, like most court proceedings, there are deadlines that must be met in order to file your claim. Below, we look at the time limits and statute of limitations in small claims cases in Illinois.

Small Claims Time Limits In Illinois

Small claims court is a form of civil court where you can sue another party for $10,000 or less in damages. These cases are often resolved much sooner than criminal law or family law cases, and a person is less likely to have a lawyer in a small claims cases compared to those other types of law. With that said, having a lawyer by your side substantially increases your odds of winning your small claims cases.

We understand that it has to make financial sense in order for you to retain a lawyer in a small claims case, but if you’re seeking a four-figure payout, it’s likely in your best interest to at least consult with a lawyer at the outset of your case to talk about all your options. Even if you don’t move forward with that lawyer by your side, that first free consultation could make all the difference in your case.


7 Types of Civil Lawsuits in Illinois

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Criminal lawsuits get all the headlines, but civil lawsuits are also quite common in today’s society. When two or more parties have a legal dispute that they want to take to court, they pursue a civil lawsuit, oftentimes with the help of a civil lawsuit attorney. At Appelman Law we have civil litigation experience and have won a wide variety of civil lawsuits for our clients. In today’s blog, we take a closer look at some of the more common types of civil lawsuits, and we explain how we can help you if you’re interested in pursuing a civil case against someone or some entity.

Common Civil Lawsuits in Illinois

Civil lawsuits typically involve someone attempting to collect monetary compensation or property, but they can certainly center around other areas of interest. Here’s a look at a number of common civil lawsuits that may be filed:

  • Personal Injury Claims – If you were bitten by someone’s dog or injured on their property, you may be able to take civil action against them for your injuries.
  • Asset Forfeiture – If police or a government body seizes your property, you can take legal action to try and get your property returned through a civil suit.
  • Breach of Contract – If someone failed to live up to a signed agreement, you can take them to civil court.
  • Landlord-Tenant Disputes – Similar to a breach of contract dispute, civil cases can also help resolve disputes between landlords and tenants.
  • Employment-Related Issues – If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, or you were subjected to harassment in the workplace, you may want to consider taking civil action.
  • Tort Claims – A tort claim is considered a claim of reparation for a wrongful act by another party. You can file a tort claim in civil court for things like battery, medical malpractice, defamation or other instances where you have been wronged by another person.
  • Copyright or IP Claims – Civil cases can help settle copyright claims or cases where intellectual property rights are being disputed.

This is far from a comprehensive list, but it helps to highlight the wide variety of cases that can be settled in civil court. Brett and his team have handled countless civil cases and have a proven track record of success, so if you’re even considering taking legal action against another party, do yourself a favor and reach out to their experienced team. They’d be more than happy to sit down with you, go over the basics of your case, and explain what they’d do for you if you wanted to hire their firm to assist with your case. To set up that meeting, or to move forward with a civil case in Illinois, reach out to Appelman Law at (630) 717-7801.

Our firm just won a small claims case in DuPage County. The client had hired a painter. The painter was claiming that he was never paid. Our client said that the painter had been paid for the work to be done and that the work was unfinished and not up to snuff. Small claims cases in DuPage County are for disputes less than $10,000.

The painter represented himself, this is known as going Pro Se. While not as bad a decision as performing your own surgery without training, it is still a bad decision for most people.

In the small claims court the Judge can relax the rules of evidence somewhat and can provide some help to a Pro Se litigant. The painter was unable to establish any sort of argument or to tell the court what he was after. His wife was somewhat more helpful to his case.


One of the most common points of dispute among tenants and landlords is the security deposit. However, many of these disputes can be prevented with better communication. In this article, we are going to offer up a few tips for landlords to avoid security deposit disputes in Illinois, and what to do if your tenant takes legal action against you for a security deposit dispute.

Create a Detailed Move-Out Letter

Providing your tenant with a detailed move-out letter will help ensure that you and your tenant are on the same page as far as move-out expectations. This can also be shown in a potential small claims suit to demonstrate that you listed potential areas of deduction.

Use a Landlord-Tenant Checklist

A landlord-tenant checklist is a useful itemized list of all the things in the unit that need to be fixed (along with associated costs). You can send a carbon copy to your tenant for their records after the inspection.


Each of us enters into several contracts every day – whether we realize it or not. Contracts can be verbal or written. Contracts can also be breached, which can lead to a host of additional legal issues. In this article, we are going to talk about what you need to know about Illinois breach of contract law.

Common Types of Contracts

There are many different types of contracts that one could enter into in the state of Illinois. Here are a few of the most common types of contracts:

  • Business-Employee Contracts
  • Non-Compete/Non-Disclosure
  • Business-to-Business Contracts
  • Utilities Contracts
  • Purchase of Goods or Services
  • Real Estate Transactions
  • Rental & Lease Agreements

Forming a Contract

Under Illinois law, a contract is entered into when three criteria are met. Here are those three criteria that need to be met in order to form a contract:

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