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What is a Default Judgment in a Debt Collection Case?

The last thing anyone wants to deal with is a debt collection lawsuit. Therefore, it is understandable that many people would rather ignore a debt collection lawsuit than address it directly. However, if you fail to respond to a debt collection lawsuit in California, you risk a possible default judgment. In a nutshell, a default judgment means that the debt collector automatically wins its case against you, leaving you on the hook for the debt. And unfortunately, after obtaining a default judgment, debt collectors have multiple legal ways of collecting what they are owed. In this article, we examine default judgments in California. 

Default Judgments Explained

A default judgment in a debt collection case is a judgment against a person who fails to answer the lawsuit. If a person is sued and ignores the lawsuit, then the debt collector has the ability to obtain a judgment after meeting certain criteria. A default judgment is a powerful litigation tool that allows parties to obtain judgments without a trial. However, since a default judgment occurs without a trial, the requirements necessary for obtaining one are strict. 

Prerequisites to Obtaining a Default Judgment

To obtain a default judgment in a debt collection lawsuit, the following prerequisites must be met: 

  • The defendant in the case must be served with a debt collection summons and complaint. 
  • The time for the defendant to answer the complaint must have passed, and the defendant must have failed to file an answer or other responsive pleading with the court. In some cases, a defendant may receive an extension of time to answer and/or respond to the complaint. 
  • The defendant must be served with a statement of damages stating the amount of damages sought by the debt collector. This statement serves as a final reminder of the amount the defendant will owe if a default judgment is entered. 

Collection After a Default Judgment

Once these prerequisites have been met, the debt collector may immediately seek a default judgment. And even if the debtor refuses to pay, the law provides several ways to collect the amount owed. For example, two common collection methods are wage garnishment and a bank account levy. With wage garnishment, the court will order the garnishment of a percentage of the debtor’s wages until the debt has been paid. And with a bank levy, the judgment is taken directly from the debtor’s bank account. 

Contact a Debt Collection Lawsuit Defense Attorney 

If you have been served with a debt collection lawsuit in California, don’t ignore it. Instead, contact an experienced California debt collection lawsuit defense attorney immediately for help. At the Fullman Firm, our debt collection lawsuit defense attorneys are here to protect your rights as a consumer. When you come to us for help with your lawsuit, we will do everything in our power to ensure that your situation has a successful outcome. Please contact us today to schedule a free consultation with one of our talented attorneys.