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What is a default judgment?— What do I do?

George Simons | December 06, 2023

George Simons
Co-Founder of SoloSuit
George Simons, JD/MBA

George Simons is the co-founder and CEO of SoloSuit. He has helped Americans protect over $1 billion from predatory debt lawsuits. George graduated from BYU Law school in 2020 with a JD-MBA. In his spare time, George likes to cook, because he likes to eat.

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: If you received a default judgment, there is still hope.

If you are sued by a debt collector, there is a finite period of time in which to respond to the Complaint. If you fail to take action and file a formal response, you are exposing yourself to the risk of having a “default judgment” entered against you. If a court enters a default judgment in the debt collection case, it empowers the debt collector to garnish your wages, extract funds from your bank accounts, and even seize your property.

What Exactly is a Default Judgment?

A default judgment is a ruling entered by a court of law. Default judgments typically arise when one party to a lawsuit fails to perform a court-ordered action or fails to respond to a formal Complaint. The failure of the party to take action results in the court settling the legal dispute in favor of the compliant party (i.e. in this instances, the debt collector).

Where Default Judgments Come Into Play with Debt Collection Lawsuits

When you are served with a debt collection lawsuit, you have a specific amount of time to file a formal “Answer” to the Complaint. In most states, a defendant typically has between 20 and 30 days to file an Answer. If you fail to file an Answer with the court, the debt collector will then turn around and file a motion seeking a default judgment. If this happens, the debt collector basically gets everything they want. The default judgment means that a court has agreed you owe the debt collector the amount owed in the Complaint, along with other costs and expenses.

What To Do When a Default Judgment is Entered Against You

If a court has entered a default judgment against you, you are probably asking yourself, “what should I do now?” Well, the first step is not to give up hope. You actually have some options. For example, you have the ability to request that the court set aside the default judgment and provide you with the opportunity to contest the judgment. Another option is for you to try and reach an amicable settlement with the debt collector.

Setting Aside a Default Judgment

If you believe the default judgment was improperly entered against you, then you need to take action to remedy this issue. Under the law, you have the option to file a formal request asking the court to set aside the default judgment. However, it is important to understand that a court will not set aside a judgment just because you asked nicely. Instead, there needs to be a valid reason as to why the default judgment was entered in error. For example, if you never received a copy of the Complaint and were never made away of the collection lawsuit, this could potentially serve as a basis to challenge the default judgment. Other reasons to potentially set aside a default judgment include:

  • Mistake or excusable neglect on your part;
  • New evidence was discovered that was unavailable to the parties in the prior proceeding;
  • Fraud on the part of the debt collector;
  • The amount owed has already been repaid.

Regardless of the basis for seeking a set aside of the default judgment, you need to act quickly. The longer you wait to request that the court set aside the judgment, the less likely you will be to succeed. Also, the likelihood of your efforts succeeding depends primarily on the specific facts of your case.

Settling a Default Judgment

If you lack a viable reason to seek a set aside of the default judgment, you still have the option to try and negotiate a settlement with the debt collector. Though, in the wake of a default judgment, you should be prepared for a debt collector who will not be very flexible in agreeing to a reduced payoff amount. Nevertheless, you can see how amenable the debt collector is to agreeing to an amicable settlement amount. If you can afford to pay a large portion of the debt in a one time lump sum payment, there is a higher chance that you could settle the judgment for less than what is owed.

Responding to a debt collection lawsuit, or filing a motion to set aside a default judgment, can be overwhelming and requires you to file specific documents containing specific legal elements. This is why it makes sense to use the resources and information available through SoloSuit.

Overview of SoloSuit

You may be asking yourself, “what exactly is SoloSuit?” Well, SoloSuit helps take some of the mystery away from responding to a lawsuit filed by a debt collector. Here is what to expect when you use SoloSuit. First, you will utilize our step-by-step web-app. This app will ask you a series of questions. 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

If you need assistance on how to best respond to a debt collection lawsuit, consider utilizing SoloSuit. What is SoloSuit? Take a moment to review these FAQs to learn more.

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Best of Luck!

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