How Hard is It to Get a Default Judgment in Your Car Accident Case?

A car accident attorney in Sargent meeting a client

For some reason, when people hear the word “judgment”, they see it as a big win. And, while it’s true that your accident attorney in Sargent can get a default judgment, it isn’t always the best outcome.

What Exactly is a Default Judgment?

A default judgment is issued when the defendant in a civil action doesn’t file a response to the plaintiff’s complaint. For example, imagine that you’re hit from behind at a red light. You file a claim with the other driver’s insurance but it’s denied.

You reach out to an accident attorney in Sargent. They file a lawsuit against the other driver. However, they don’t respond in the next thirty days. At this point, you can always apply to the court for a judgment.

In other words, a default judgment is only issued when the defendant in a civil case fails to respond or reach out to the court.

What Does Your Sargent Injury Lawyer Have to Do to Obtain a Default Judgment?

Getting a default judgment is not all that difficult to do. If the other driver doesn’t file an answer when they receive your complaint, all you have to do is apply for a judgment.

Your Sargent injury lawyer will have to certify to the court that you’ve met the requirements for default judgment. Once they do that, the judgment will be issued, and you can move forward with your case.

Georgia Superior Court Rule 5 Dictates the Steps You Must Take

According to Georgia Superior Court Rule No. 5, there are certain steps your accident attorney in Sargent must take to get a default judgment. They are rather simple and rather clear.

Your lawyer must do the following to have a default judgment issued by the judge:

  • Submit a certification to the court that states the following:
    • The date and type of service that was completed
    • Demonstrate that proof of service was provided to the court within five days of securing service
    • State that there was no defensive pleading file by the other party
    • Confirm that the defendant is not an active member of the military
    • A typed order asking for the items demanded in your initial complaint
  • Your Sargent injury lawyer must submit this certification along with an original and two copies of your “Motion for Default Judgment.”
  • You must serve a copy of the motion with the defendant.
  • Once fifteen (15) days have gone by from the date of service, you can ask the court to sign the order.

This may seem complicated. However, our accident attorney in Sargent can draft the certification and motion in no time at all. It is just a matter of waiting the requisite forty-five (45) days.

The forty-five (45) days include the thirty (30) days the defendant has to file an answer. It also includes the mandatory fifteen (15) day waiting period from the date of your motion.

Will the Judge Grant Everything You Demanded in Your Initial Complaint?

Given the fact that the defendant had ample opportunity to file an answer, the judge will grant everything requested in your initial complaint.

Two men arguing after a car accident

It would be one thing if the defendant responded and argued that you caused the crash. They could even file an answer at the last minute with an explanation as to why they didn’t file their answer sooner.

None of this will matter. The court will issue the default judgment and close the matter.

What Will Happen When the Defendant Finds Out the Judgment Was Signed?

Once your judgment is issued, your accident attorney in Sargent will send a copy to the defendant. They will also docket the judgment so that it becomes final. You have to do this if you expect to collect on the judgment using post-judgment execution.

According to Georgia Code §9-11-55, the defendant has the option of asking the court to reopen the case. Generally, the defendant may do one of the following three things.

  • The defendant may ignore this like they ignored the initial complaint.
  • They may call your Sargent injury lawyer and try to settle the matter.
  • They may file a Motion to Vacate, asking the court to open the case again.

If the defendant asks the judge to vacate the judgment, your accident attorney in Sargent will file a response.

Your Accident Attorney in Sargent Will Challenge Their Request

If the defendant does file a Motion to Vacate, your accident attorney in Sargent will contest it. However, it is important to note that the courts are very quick to grant these motions.

The last thing the judge wants is for the defendant to appeal the decision to the higher courts. The way they see it, it is easier to let them have their say. If the plaintiff wins on the merits, it is a more final resolution.

The Defendant Will Have to Prove They Were Not Served Properly

In order to convince the judge to reopen the case, the defendant must prove that they weren’t served properly. They may argue that the complaint was sent to the wrong address.

Or they may claim that they could not afford to pay the small fee to file an answer. Unless there are exigent reasons to oppose their request, the judge will likely grant their request.

Unfortunately, It Could Take Years for Your Judgment to Be Paid

If you do win at trial, your accident attorney at Sargent will work toward getting the judgment paid. Unfortunately, if the defendant has no assets, your judgment may not be paid for some time – if at all.

Given this, your Sargent injury lawyer will try to negotiate a settlement or payment plan with the defendant. Sometimes, this makes more sense than letting your judgment become stale.

Reach Out to an Accident Attorney in Sargent to Get the Process Started

If you get into a car accident, there’s a chance the insurance company will pay your claim. However, there are a number of things that can prevent this from happening. Our Georgia accident attorneys have had hundreds of clients left with no choice but to file suit.

When your Sargent injury lawyer files your lawsuit, the goal is to negotiate a settlement with the defendant. Unfortunately, the defendant may not even respond to your complaint. If this is the case, your accident attorney in Sargent can always file a motion for default judgment.

Ideally, it won’t come to this. It would be much better if the defendant had a lawyer who wanted to resolve the matter. Regardless of the situation, your accident attorney in Sargent will do their best to get you the compensation you deserve.

Call today and schedule your free, initial consultation.

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