Ask an Atlanta Lawyer – What Happens if a Defendant Ignores the Fact That You’ve Filed a Lawsuit Against Them?


Most people would feel like they were going to have a nervous breakdown if they were being sued. If you were handed a sealed envelope from FedEx or UPS and it was from a lawyer’s office, you might be frightened. Any normal person would. Unless you know that there’s a pending legal action against you, this is nothing but a terrible surprise. Atlanta injury lawyers understand this feeling. They know because they’re usually the ones sending that sealed, certified envelope.

Surprisingly, there are some people out there who aren’t fazed by the fact that they’re being sued. Perhaps they’ve been through the legal process before. Or maybe they have an attorney on call who handles this sort of stuff for them. But there’s a whole other group of defendants out there. These are the people who don’t get nervous when they find out they’re being sued because they simply don’t care. They have no assets and figure, even if you win, nothing’s going to happen to them.

The good news is that your Atlanta injury lawyer will press on. The case isn’t going away just because the other party ignores you. It can make the process move along much smoother if they don’t respond. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to get your money any faster – if at all.

Your Atlanta Injury Lawyer is Required to Personally Serve the Defendant

When you sue somebody in Georgia, you need to serve a copy of your complaint to the defendant. The complaint is the physical form you fill out and file with the court. You can have the sheriff or one of their deputies serve the defendant. Or you can choose to personally serve them.

This is how it is usually done by Atlanta injury lawyers. You can physically deliver it to the defendant at their home. If they aren’t there, you can leave it with someone in their home who is at least eighteen (18) years old. Your attorney will likely have a company who handles this for them. Your Atlanta injury lawyer won’t physically drive to the defendant’s house to do this.

The Defendant Has a Certain Amount of Time to Respond

As the plaintiff, you or your lawyer must serve a copy of the summons and complaint on the defendant within five (5) days of receipt. So, if your attorney receives a copy of the filed summons and complaint from the court on June 1, they will have to serve it on the defendant by June 6. Weekends do not count. The defendant will then have thirty (30) days to respond to your lawsuit. They do this by filing an answer or response.

The Court Will Proceed Without the Defendant

You may be surprised at how often a defendant simply ignores a complaint filed against them. They may be in denial. Or they may not care. Whatever the reason, if thirty (30) days pass without a response, you have options. What your Atlanta injury lawyer will do is ask the court to issue a default judgment. This is when the court rules in your favor simply because the defendant didn’t file a response. In one way, this is good. It means you win. However, the question is – what have you won?

A Default Judgment Isn’t Always a Good Thing

If the judge grants your lawyer’s motion for a default judgment, you will have essentially won your case. You won’t have to worry about the defendant coming back later and arguing that they didn’t have a chance to fight the case. There are certain exceptions to this rule. However, most of the time, once a default judgment is issued, the case is over. The problem is that, even though you won, all you have is a legal judgment. Your Atlanta injury lawyer will still have to get them to pay.

Speak with a Seasoned Atlanta Injury Lawyer Right Away

When somebody’s hurt in an accident – any accident – they may have a potential legal claim. If somebody else is responsible for the car crash or slip and fall, they should be held accountable. Ideally, they would stand up and do the right thing. They’d offer to pay your medical bills and any other losses you experienced as a result of your accident.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t often happy that way. That’s why It’s a good idea to call and talk to an experienced Atlanta injury lawyer right away. The initial consultation is free, and you don’t pay anything until your case is resolved.

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