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.