What is a Default Judgment?
A default can be compared to a voluntary forfeit in sports. When a debtor receives a Summons & Complaint in regards to a debt collection lawsuit, this is their opportunity to respond to the lawsuit, if they so wish. If they do not respond, the Law Firm that filed the lawsuit can request that a default judgment be entered into court record.
If an answer to the Summons and Complaint is filed, it is important to understand that a valid legal defense is generally required in order to prevail . If the debtor appears at the hearing, the court will ask if the defendant is the right person being sued, if the amount is correct, and does the defendant owe the money. When the answers to these three questions are yes, the court will enter “judgment”, in favor of the plaintiff, because the defendant was present, as opposed to a “default judgment”. For the most part, a judgment and a default judgment amount to the same, except there are some advantages to one vs. the other in some states. Judgment may be avoided if the defendant and plaintiff can come to an agreement and/or settle the account prior to the court entering judgment.
What happens after a Default Judgment is entered?
Creditors, called Judgment Creditors after judgment, have additional means to collect debt. In some states, this can include execution of a wage garnishment; attempt to levy bank accounts, file liens on personal property, and possibly file liens on real estate. Laws vary widely from state to state. What may be available to a Judgment Creditor in one state may not be available in another . Additionally, there are federal and state laws that govern various exemptions the Judgement Debtors can claim. Certain types of benefits such as Social Security benefits, SSI, veteran’s benefits, welfare benefits and unemployment are exempt from the reach of private Judgment Creditos.
If you have received notice that a default judgment has been entered, don’t jump to conclusions and assume all is lost. Even though the creditor has a judgment, collecting is expensive and a judgment comes with no guarantees that a judgment creditor will be successful in collecting the money. Many judgments go unpaid and most judgments are settled for an amount less the judgment.
Can I resolve an account after a Judgment is filed?
If you have funds currently available, consider making a settlement offer for less than the amount owed. You may be surprised with the outcome. Although judgments often settle for higher percent’s than non-judgment accounts, judgments can be resolved and most often for less than the amount of the Judgment
You can also request payment arrangements. Never agree to a payment you know you cannot afford, especially if the agreement is going to be entered through the court. The last thing you need is to commit to a court ordered payment plan and fail to make the payments. This could place you in contempt of court, which is more serous then the law suit.
Additional Assistance with Judgment
It’s best to seek the advice of an Attorney licensed in your state to assist you with a Judgment or Default Judgment. There are many options available for legal assistance. Consider visiting the court house where the court documents originated from. The Clerk of Court or other court house staff may be able to provide you with the forms you need to answer. They may also provide helpful instructions. Most forms are provided for free, although some courts require a filing fee. Some court houses may offer their forms online. Other options are Legal Aid, as well as Local, State and Volunteer Bar Associations. Other options to consider are Online Legal Advice Services and Online Legal Form websites. These websites offer forms you can download and print, ready to sign and mail.
To have an attorney review your case, consider contacting an Attorney Referral Service. A qualified licensed Attorney can provide valuable legal advice regarding your legal rights under your state laws. UGotiate has access to a network of Attorneys that specializes in debt collection law suits. To learn more call 1-800-215-2706. When calling, mention you are a UGotiate subscriber to receive special pricing options from the Attorney.