By design, our courts practice extreme fairness and try to hear both sides of every case. However, sometimes a defendant refuses to respond to to a lawsuit or charges. When this happens, the plaintiff can try to get the court to issue a default ruling in their favor. This creates default cases, or cases in which the defendants do not respond. They are the closest thing the civil court system has to one-sided justice.

You will put a lot of work into getting a court to issue a default ruling in your favor. In fact, this is only possible if you have impeccable legal documents. You do not always need a lawyer, though; sometimes a legal document assistant (LDA) is all you need to help you be successful in a civil lawsuit.

Why Are Default Cases Such Hard Work?

You might wonder why it is so hard to get a default judgment. However, if you look at this from the defendant’s perspective, things become clear. Imagine that you receive a letter informing you of a court ruling that says you must pay a debt. However, prior to receiving the letter, you had no idea that either the debt or the lawsuit existed. That does not sound fair, does it?

Courts must make every reasonable effort to find people and notify them of legal actions being taken against them, whether these actions are civil lawsuits or criminal charges. In order for a court case to be considered fair, both parties must get a chance to have their say. Only when both parties have had every opportunity to respond will a court consider making it a default case. 

What is a Default Judgment?

When a plaintiff files a lawsuit, the court notifies the defendant. Defendants are the person, parties, or company against whom the lawsuit was filed. The court gives the defendant a chance to respond and to hire a lawyer to represent them, if they so choose. That notification can take place through correspondence sent to the defendant’s address or by posting an announcement in a published document, such as a newspaper. Sometimes, defendants do not respond even after they have been notified. In this situation, the plaintiff may try to persuade the court to issue a default judgment in the plaintiff’s favor.

So far, getting default cases may sound pretty simple to you. However, lack of response from the defendant does not mean an automatic decision in your favor. You still have to present evidence that the defendant should be held responsible for paying you the money you are seeking in the lawsuit. For example, in a personal injury lawsuit, you will need to persuade the court that the defendant’s actions caused your injury. You must also show documentation that your injury-related expenses equal the amount you are trying to claim.

Why the Documents are So Important in Default Cases

In some types of cases, such as personal injury cases, the court will only issue a default judgment after the plaintiff or their attorney speaks to the judge in a hearing. This hearing is like a one-sided trial. The plaintiff tells their side, but the defendant is assumed to have nothing to say in their defense.

For cases dealing with fixed amounts of money that do not involve injuries, the court sometimes issues default judgments based solely on the documents the plaintiff submits. Whether or not you have a hearing, your impeccably prepared documents play a key role in winning a default judgment.

A People’s Choice: Cheaper Than a Lawyer, More Legal Than a Paralegal

If your documents are strong enough, you might not need to hire a lawyer for your default case.  A registered legal document assistant (LDA) can help you prepare your TOD deed or other estate planning documents for a lower price than you would have to pay for a lawyer. Contact A People’s Choice about document preparation services for default cases.