How Common Are Default Judgments?

Before we get into how common default judgments are and what causes them, let’s start with what a default judgement is.

A default judgement is when one of the parties either the defendant or plaintiff doesn’t show up for an appearance or file an answer to the initial pleading, and the court makes the decision in favor of the other party.

A person can receive a default judgement if the other fails to appear in court or if they fail to respond to an official summons after they have been served. Typically it’s the defendant that loses in a default judgement, but if the plaintiff misses a court date or misses the deadline to filing specific documents the defendant could be awarded a default judgement.  The plaintiff must make sure that the defendant is given the summons and complaint usually via a process server, but can also be done by anyone that’s qualified to carry out the service.  The process server has to fill out and sign an affidavit as proof of service. Once the affidavit has been completed it needs to be filed with the court for the lawsuit to continue. The person that receives the summons has a certain amount of time to respond to the summons and appear in court.

Default judgements aren’t very common in America. They aren’t very common, because the courts would rather have actual litigation decide case than have one side win by an error, lack of action or trick. A default judgement doesn’t get to the heart of the issues, and instead rewards one side without really doing anything. In many instances the court may allow the case to continue if a person explains why they failed to do whatever was necessary to avoid the default judgement. The courts have made it very hard to overturn or appeal the decision to give someone a second chance to fix the default. They believe it’s more important for justice to be served and for everyone to get their chance in court.

The best lawyers can help you out with a default judgement regardless of if you’re the plaintiff or defendant. A good lawyer can help a defendant get a default judgement overturned by putting together a persuasive argument for why the judgement should be overturned. A good lawyer can help the plaintiff by setting the default judgement in motion.