Visitor Question

Do I file my small claims case in my county or where the accident took place?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Hanover Park, Illinois)

I’m an Uber driver in the State of Illinois. I picked up my first rider of the day and was traveling to pick up the second rider. I was traveling southbound on a one-way street. There is parking on both sides and 3 moving lanes. I was in the far left moving lane.

When I approached the end of the street to pick up my passenger, the light was red. I turned on my hazard light while the passenger entered the car. The light turned green but I waited for the passenger to settle in before I turned off my hazard lights and proceeded to go through the green light.

The car behind me got impatient and went to the middle lane and attempted to make a left turn in front of me. This caused the accident to happen.

The other party’s insurance is taking their insured’s word over mine. I plan on filing a small claims suit in the local court. I live in Dupage County, but the defendant lives in Cook county, which is also where the incident took place.

Can I file my claim in Du Page County or do I have to file it in Cook County?

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

Based on the facts as you present them, the other driver appears to have been at fault. Under the Illinois Vehicle Code, persons on a one way street who intend to turn left at an intersection may not do so, unless the turn is being made from the far left hand lane.

Whether he was frustrated or not, the other driver appears to have been in violation of Illinois Vehicle Code Section 11-801 (2), which reads in part:

“The driver of a vehicle intending to turn left at any intersection shall approach the intersection in the extreme left-hand lane lawfully available to traffic moving in the direction of travel of such vehicle, and after entering the intersection, the left turn shall be made so as to leave the intersection in a lane lawfully available to traffic moving in such direction upon the roadway being entered….”

If the police were dispatched to the scene they likely completed a police accident report. If so, the report may indicate the other driver received a traffic citation under Section 11-801. If so, the issuance of the citation is strong evidence of the driver’s fault.

It is important to file your claim in the proper venue. You will need to file in the venue having “jurisdiction” over the case. Jurisdiction refers to the court’s legal power to hear a lawsuit.

In the State of Illinois, jurisdiction over civil lawsuits exists by statute. According to Illinois law, civil actions (lawsuits), including those filed in small claims courts, may be filed:

” (1) in the county of residence of any defendant…, or
(2) in the county in which the transaction (accident) occurred…”

Based on this information, Cook County is the proper venue to file your case. That’s because Cook County is the place of residence for the other driver (defendant), and it is also where the transaction (accident) occurred.

For more information about Cook County Small Claims Courts, including access to required forms go to the county website.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Published: October 19, 2017

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