Should You Take Your Personal Injury Case to Small Claims Court?
Small claims court serves as a simple, low cost option for people to resolve small disputes, but is it the best option for your case? If you have been injured or involved in some type of accident, do not make any assumptions about how much your case is worth. There are many issues you’ll need to consider before deciding how to file your claim and/or law suit.
Small Claims Limits in Missouri and Illinois
Small claims court may be a reasonable option for people looking to resolve things like loan repayments, property repairs, or service contracts. These disputes do not usually require representation by an attorney and can often be settled quite easily.
Personal injury claims, on the other hand, are usually not as easy to settle. Unless the injury was very minor, a fair settlement amount will likely exceed the maximum limit allowed by a small claims court. Even if you prevail in the case, you will not be able to recover damages beyond the following state limits:
- In Illinois, the most you can recover in small claims court is $10,000.
- In Missouri, the maximum allowable small claims amount is $5,000.
By the time you factor in property damages, lost wages, medical bills and other expenses after an accident, your personal injury case will probably be worth much more than the small claims limits.
Legal Representation in Small Claims Court
As a plaintiff, you are allowed to have an attorney represent your interests in small claims courts in Missouri and Illinois. However, it may not be worth it for you or for your lawyer if you are only expected to recover a very small amount for your claim.
For personal injury cases, most attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that the lawyer will only get paid if you recover from your case. If you do prevail, the lawyer will collect a percentage of your recovery to cover his or her fee.
Considering the limited judgment amounts in a small claims court, the amount you can recover probably will not justify paying for representation by an attorney.
Consult a Personal Injury Attorney FIRST
Before you decide to take the “cheap and easy” route by filing with a small claims court, we urge you to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your case. A thorough assessment of your injury and evaluation of other damages is necessary to determine how much you should seek for a settlement. As mentioned before, a personal injury case is likely to be worth much more than you can hope to collect in a small claims court.
Remember, your initial consultation is FREE and you can have peace of mind knowing that you are making the best decision for you and your family. Contact the Lieser Law Firm today so that our personal injury attorney can advise you about all your legal options and what your best course of action will be.
Call us at 314-862-7805