Failure to answer a lawsuit will trigger a default judgment. A defendant is required to submit a response, called an answer, to a civil lawsuit filed against him. Thee have about 30 days to file an answer with the court. If the defendant does not file an answer, the plaintiff may request a default judgment from the court.

A default judgment is an automatic win for the plaintiff. This is because the court rules in the plaintiff’s favor without the case being heard.

What Does Collecting a Judgment Have to Do with a Default Judgment?

Once a judgment is entered in the plaintiff’s favor, they can collect any damages that the defendant may owe them as a result of the judgment. The damages are often collected through the courts. For instance, the defendant may either pay the money directly to the court or file a garnishment. A garnishment is a regular payment taken from the defendant’s bank account or paycheck until the debt is satisfied.

What Are the Requirements of a Default Judgment?

Before the judgment can be entered, the court requires that:

  • The defendant be served with a Summons and Complaint. The plaintiff must show Proof of Service of Summons and Complaint and file it with the local court.
  • The time period the defendant has to respond is expired.
  • The defendant has failed to file an answer to the complaint.

In some jurisdictions, the defendant must be serviced with a statement of damages. This statement lists the money the plaintiff seeks.

Can This Judgment Be Used If a Defendant Files an Answer?

Yes, in some circumstances it can be used even if the defendant files an answer. The court can grant the judgment if the defendant:

  • Fails to appear at a court hearing, and
  • Does not have a legal defense to the lawsuit.

Can a Judgment be Vacated?

 Yes, a judge will vacate, or set aside, the judgment only if the defendant can show a good cause why it was incorrectly filed.

Should I Contact an Attorney about a Default Judgment?

Yes, a default has serious repercussions on credit and finances. If you are owed a judgment, you should talk to a personal injury attorney too.