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Can You Appeal a Default Judgement?

Melissa Lyken | December 06, 2023

Legal Expert, Paralegal
Melissa Lyken, BS

Melissa Lyken is a senior paralegal and legal-finance content writer with over eight years of professional legal and business experience and a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Community Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Edited by Hannah Locklear

Hannah Locklear
Editor at SoloSuit
Hannah Locklear, BA

Hannah Locklear is SoloSuit’s Marketing and Impact Manager. With an educational background in Linguistics, Spanish, and International Development from Brigham Young University, Hannah has also worked as a legal support specialist for several years.

Summary: Have you had a default judgment filed against you? You still might be able to appeal. Use SoloSuit to respond in 15 minutes and win your lawsuit.

So, you didn't file your Answer on time. Or the Court rejected your Answer. The Plaintiff requested a Default Judgement against you. And the Court ruled in their favor. Now you're wondering if you can appeal a Default Judgment or if all hope is lost. Before you decide to throw in the towel, you may be able to appeal a Default Judgement by taking the steps below.

What is a Default Judgement?

Default Judgement often occurs when a defendant, or the person being sued, does not respond by the deadline in the Summons. Most courts require that you file an Answer to the Complaint or Petition, depending on what state you are in, within 30 days after you are served. When you don't, the plaintiff can request that the Court enters Default Judgment. Receiving a Default Judgment means you lose, and the creditor or Plaintiff wins by default because you didn't show up or respond.

Before you give up hope, you can still appeal the Default Judgement by filing a Motion to Set Aside Judgment and an Order. A Motion to Set Aside Judgment may allow you to be heard and to set the lawsuit back in motion.

Answer with SoloSuit to avoid a default judgment.

File Your Motion to Set Aside Judgement

Filing a Motion to Set Aside Judgement lets the Court know why you didn't file an Answer, why you didn't file your Answer on time, or why you didn't appear at the hearing. The Court won't accept just any excuse. Here are some commonly acceptable reasons to set aside a judgment that courts generally accept. You should include any of these claims that apply to you:

  • Due to a mistake, surprise, excusable neglect, or inadvertence
  • Judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged
  • The statute of limitations for the lawsuit passed
  • The Petition or Complaint contained mistakes or was filed incorrectly
  • You were improperly served

Use SoloSuit to make the right affirmative defenses the right way.

In your Motion, it is important to explain why the Court should set aside their previous ruling. You do not need to explain too much, so keep it short and to the point. You want to include whether or not you would like to request a hearing. In some courts, the hearing will be mandatory. Check with the Clerk of Court before filing, so you aren't surprised to find out that a hearing is scheduled after you file your Motion.

When you file your Motion to Set Aside Judgement, you also file the Order to go along with it. Here is how it works. When you file a Motion, you are asking the Judge to make a decision or a ruling based on the statements made in your Motion. The Order expresses the Court's decision on your Motion. You need to provide the Court with both documents. Your Order should include a signature and date block for the Judge to sign and date when the Motion is accepted.

Win your debt lawsuit by responding

Here's a Quick Recap of the Steps:

Step 1. Draft your Motion to Set Aside Judgement and the Order.

Step 2. Call the Clerk of Court to find out how much it costs to file a Motion in your Court. When you speak with the Clerk, this may also be your opportunity to determine if you may qualify for a fee waiver. Remember to find out the Court's accepted forms of payment.

Step 3. Find out if your Court accepts e-filing. Or confirm the mailing address and mail the documents along with payment to the Court.

Step 4. Mail a copy of these documents to the Plaintiff the same day you provide them to the Court.

Next Steps: Once Your Motion to Set Aside and Order are Granted

  1. You may have a chance to file your Answer again. Filing your Answer does not have to be a complicated process. In essence, you are responding to the allegations or assertions in the Complaint or Petition. Here at SoloSuit, we can help you generate your Answer in 15 minutes, and if you'd like, you can even get your Answer professionally reviewed by one of our partnering attorneys. If you intend to win your case, this may be an excellent and affordable option for you and help you avoid some of the common mistakes people make when drafting their Answers.
    1. You may have an opportunity to schedule a hearing. If a hearing is mandatory or if you have a chance to request a hearing, this may be an excellent opportunity to let the Court know how some of the reasons listed above apply to you and why they hindered your ability to file your Answer on time. You must appear on the scheduled date or notify the Clerk of Court that you may need to reschedule. The last thing you want to do is miss the hearing again.

Receiving Default Judgement can leave you feeling powerless and hopeless if you don't know how to fight back. We hope these tips and strategies help you get your voice heard and provide you with an opportunity to win your case.

What is SoloSuit?

SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.

How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.

Respond with SoloSuit

"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James

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>>Read the FastCompany article: Debt Lawsuits Are Complicated: This Website Makes Them Simpler To Navigate

>>Read the NPR story on SoloSuit: A Student Solution To Give Utah Debtors A Fighting Chance

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