Imagine that you filed a lawsuit against someone for breach of contract. You fully expect them to show up to court and argue their side, but surprisingly, they don’t show. What now? Well, not only could that person face severe consequences for not following a court order, but you can now request what is known as a default judgment from the court.
A default judgment is a legal judgment where the court rules in favor of one party when the other fails to respond and present their side of the case by a specific deadline, which is typically 30 days.
There are two ways a respondent may find themselves in this situation:
- They were served and did not file an answer by the deadline, or
- They filed an answer and received a hearing date but did not show up for the hearing.
In other words, you win the case by default — all because they didn’t show up, and you did.
How Often Do Default Judgments Happen in Court Cases?
It may seem crazy that a party in a legal matter wouldn’t respond to a lawsuit notice or show up for the scheduled court date, especially when they are being accused of something. But these scenarios happen more often than you might think — either by mistake, for a valid reason, or because the accused is simply defying the law.
Default judgments can be handed down in a wide range in instances, from civil matters where someone is suing another party for breach of contract or negligence to a car accident. A default judgment could also be granted in a family law case where one parent does not attend a custody hearing. Whether by mistake or not, it doesn’t look good when someone doesn’t show up.
In the default judgment example used at the beginning of this blog, the offending party could be held liable for breaching the contract and forced to pay damages to the plaintiff.
Can I Ask the Judge to Cancel a Default Judgment?
If you are the party that didn’t respond in time or attend the hearing, you can ask the judge to cancel or “set aside” a default judgment within 30 days from when the default judgment was signed. To do this, you must file by the deadline, and you must show that you did not file an answer or did not show up to the hearing due to –
- Mistake or accident,
- Improper service of citation, or
- Improper notice of the hearing date.
Note: If you ask the judge to cancel the default judgment due to accident or mistake, you must also show that you have a good reason the judge should rule in your favor and that canceling the default judgment will not cause delay or harm to the other side.
Please call Christman Attorneys, PLLC, for your legal needs today!
Please consult an attorney for advice about your individual situation. The material on this website and in this or any blog article we publish are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. The attorneys at Christman Attorneys, PLLC, believe in tailoring legal advice and solutions to your own personal circumstances.
We have an unwavering commitment to helping our clients at each stage of their legal situation.