What Does Losing by Default Mean?

Injury Attorney Assisting with Civil Claims in the Indianapolis Area

Not all lawsuits filed have merit. When someone feels as if he or she has been sued without reason, that individual may ignore the claim and assume it will resolve itself without further involvement. However, the legal system does not work based on ignoring critical facts. When people ignore a lawsuit, instead of defending themselves, the individual suing could win by default.

Winning by default and losing by default rarely happen with civil lawsuits. Typically, those who ignore and allow a loss by default know that they would have lost anyway, and ignore the suit because there are no grounds, or simply forget about it.

Refusal to Respond to the Courts

A legal response must be issued to the lawsuit. When someone is sued, there are instructions on the service about how to respond and how many days are given. Issuing a public statement or press release is not a legal response to a lawsuit.

Instead, a civil lawsuit requires a formal response submitted to the courts. Even if the defendant does not agree with the lawsuit or feels there is no merit, he or she must argue such in the response. Without responding, the court will rule that the defendant is in default for not responding; therefore, the plaintiff wins.

Real-Life Example

Hillary Clinton found herself losing by default in a lawsuit concerning Americans killed during the Benghazi attacks.

The court declared her in default because she did not respond to the wrongful death suit regarding her involvement. However, her team still has time to file a quick response, or they may be able to request an extension. In this instance, she issued a statement about her feelings toward the suits and the loss of loved ones, but then never replied to the actual court summons. The court, however, does not care about press releases – it only cares about official responses.

Default and At Fault: Not the Same

A court granting default does not mean that the defendant is at fault for the case. In some cases, a defendant that is initially found in default could still file a quick motion or request an extension from the court. However, the default motion is a step toward holding the defendant at-fault for their actions.

There are time limits set by the courts not only for how long a person has to file the claim, but how long he or she has to respond to certain actions within a suit. There are often short-term response times for court motion responses, as well, because the court wants to push the case along as much as they can without delay.

Therefore, when a defendant does not respond, he or she could be found liable under default just for not responding by the deadline.

Civil Courts Have Complex Rules – Contact a Personal Injury Attorney

There are complex rules and procedures for civil claims. Therefore, those who need to file a lawsuit should speak to a personal injury attorney regarding their claim. The accident team at Jacobs Law, LLC can assist you with your claim. Schedule a consultation with us today by calling our offices or complete our online contact form.