Bankruptcy Des Moines, Iowa

What Happens When You Don’t Respond to a Lawsuit?

Posted on 09/07/2017 at 12:00 AM by Lisa Pendroy

So you’ve been served a lawsuit. What do you do next? When you are the target of a summons and complaint, typically, the defendant is allotted 20 days to reply. 

So what is next? Though ignoring a lawsuit may be tempting and seem like the ‘easy way out,’ doing so will only make things even more complicated.

Default Judgments

Ignoring a lawsuit can actually lead to what is referred to as a default judgment. This means that the plaintiff (the person or party who initiated the lawsuit) can request that the court enter a default judgment against the defendant. The creditor may then freeze your bank account, garnish your wages, or, if you own real estate, a judgment can result in a lien placed on your real estate.

Admitting Guilt

In a default judgment, the court is likely to assume that the defendant wishes to avoid the proceedings. Essentially, if you choose to ignore a lawsuit, the courts see this as you admitting that the accusations made by the plaintiff are true or justified. You will lose any right to answer later, as well as the right to appeal the judgment.

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