If you receive a summons to defend against a personal injury claim, failing to appear will not make the summons go away. 

What Happens if I Fail to Appear?

Failure to plead or otherwise defend against a personal injury claim will result in a default judgment for the other party. The default judgment, including all costs, is entered by the court clerk if it is for a specified, verifiable amount or by the court if the amount is determined by the court’s judgment. 

Can a Default Judgment be Set Aside?

The court may set aside a default judgment for one of several reasons:

  • mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect,
  • fraud,
  • newly discovered evidence,
  • satisfaction, release or discharge of judgment,
  • reversal of a prior judgment, or
  • any other reason justifying relief from the judgment.

If a failure to appear can be justified and excused as a result of a valid mistake or excusable neglect that could not have been prevented, the court may grant relief. However, mistakes resulting from deliberate and counseled decisions or simple ignorance or misunderstanding of the law and its consequences are not grounds for relief.

How Do I Request Relief from a Default Judgment or Order?

To obtain relief from a default judgment requires filing a motion requesting that relief be granted and providing justification for whatever action led to the default judgment.

Do I Need an Attorney to Request Relief from a Default Judgment?

Except in the most obvious circumstances, courts are not likely to grant relief for default judgments. Consulting with an personal injury attorney can help determine the likelihood of your motion’s success and prevent further costly mistakes.