What Is A Default Judgment?


When you file a lawsuit, it gives you the opportunity to go to court and have your dispute resolved by a judge who is impartial. Typically, a trial is held and both sides have the opportunity to submit evidence and support their positions. At the end of the trial, a judge will render a decision. This judgment will grant relief to one of the parties involved.

A Default Judgment

A judge can also grant a default judgment. This occurs when one of the parties fails to perform an action that is required. As an example, if you have someone served with a summons that states a specified time in which they have to appear in court, a judge can grant a default judgment if that person fails to show up on the specified date.

If a judge grants you a default judgment, it dictates that you will be able to dispute your case and the other person will not be heard. If you received a default judgment in your favor, it will help your case as the judge can only be shown evidence that helps support your side of the case.

A Risk To Both Parties

Most of the time, when a default judgment is given, it is associated with a complaint that has not been answered by a defendant. However, there is a possibility that a plaintiff can receive a default judgment. This might occur if a defendant filed a counterclaim against a plaintiff. In that situation, if the plaintiff failed to make a response to the defendant’s counterclaim, there is a possibility that a judge could grant a default judgment to the defendant.

Seeking Relief

When a judgment is handed out by a judge, the losing party usually has to pay a sum of money to the party who is the winner. If the plaintiff is the winner, he or she may seize bank accounts, vehicles and personal property that belongs to the person who lost the judgment.

Setting Aside A Judgment

Since the consequences that are associated with a judgment are sometimes severe, state laws mandate that a defaulting party can file a motion that asks the court to set aside the judgment that was given. In this type of situation, many states will require that a valid excuse must be proven to act as a defense against the claims of the opposing party.

In some states, a time limitation is set that mandates a period in which a default judgment can be vacated. It’s important to act immediately if you are the defaulting party so you don’t lose this right.