Setting Aside Default Judgment

February 10, 2023
Jane Tallmadge

When people think of a lawsuit, the final judgment is usually what they are most interested in. However, contrary to what movies and TV might portray, judgments do not always come after intense, nail-biting moments in a courtroom. Judgments come in all shapes and sizes, and one type is a default judgment.

A default judgment occurs when a court rules against a party who has not responded to a complaint with legal action, such as filing an answer to the lawsuit or showing up to a hearing, within a specified period of time. This results in the Plaintiff (or the party filing the complaint) automatically obtaining the favor of the court and having the case decided in their favor.

      Legal proceedings might seem too important to be decided by default, but default judgment is a necessary response if the defendant does respond to the case. In both state and federal courts, if a Defendant (the party of which a complaint is filed against) is served notice of a lawsuit and fails to respond, the Court will rule against them.

When can default judgment be set aside? If the Defendant has experienced identity theft or if there is a jurisdiction fault in the judgment, a court will reconsider the default ruling. Courts need to hear both sides of the story, so they often reverse default judgment if the Defendant responds within a reasonable time, even after the initial deadline to respond has passed.  To do this, a Defendant who has been ruled against must file a Motion to Set Aside Default Judgment before a second deadline decided upon by the court.

       Another way to set aside a default judgment is if the Defendant can prove they did not take action because of a legitimate accident or mistake. Legally proving this can be difficult, but this is another way to obtain a fair hearing.  

       The last common way for default judgment to be aside is if the statute of limitations has passed. This means that a case was filed after the allotted time allowed for filing a suit against wrongdoing. Therefore, the case is no longer allowed to exist, which automatically voids default judgment.

Understanding default judgment is important because the path of a lawsuit is not always straightforward and default judgment could impact your case. If you are involved in the litigation process, it is important to know the twists and turns that might come. Sumsion Business Law is here to help you navigate that process and make sense of the complexity of the legal world!

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