Default Judgment

Default Judgment: Solicitor sets out how to obtain a “judgment in default” for a personal injury compensation claim

Find out how a default judgment determines legal fault for your personal injury claim; how your solicitor obtains a judgment in default, the need for a further hearing to determine how much your compensation claim is worth and how a Defendant can apply to overturn the default judgment.

What is a default judgment?

Once either you or your solicitor has issued proceedings at court and served those proceedings (formally provided the court documents by recognised means) on the Defendant (the person you are making your claim against and hold responsible for your accident) – the Defendant must acknowledge receipt and provide a Defence.

A default judgment (set out in detail by the court rules) is also known as judgment in default of a Defence. Judgment can also be spelled judgement in the UK, but the alternate spelling is in recent years far less used.

Judgment Default Of Defence
Judgment In Default Of Defence

If an acknowledgement of service or a Defence (a formal document setting out why the person you allege to be at fault for your accident does not believe they were at fault) is not received within the requisite time period specified by the court on the papers – an application can be made to the court by your solicitor for a default judgment.

On receipt of this application – the judge will check if a Defence has been received and if not you will receive a default judgment.

Is your personal injury claim over once you obtain a default judgment?

“No” – your claim for personal injury has not concluded when you receive judgment in default – as the amount of compensation you are entitled to recover has still to be determined by the court in an “assessment of damages” hearing (a hearing exclusively used to decide how much your compensation claim is worth).

Remember as judgment in default has been received – you have won on the point of liability (legal fault), so any future hearing will not need to argue who was at fault only how much your compensation payout should be.

Can a defendant do anything about a default judgment?

“Yes” – the Defendant can apply to have the default judgment set aside (allowing the court to remove the judgment in default and permit a Defence to be considered) before the assessment of damages hearing – but the Defendant must show there is good reason why a Defence was not lodged at court within time.

One such reason might be that service was not properly executes (the Defendant proving that they did not receive the court documentation allowing them to respond with a Defence).

Further legal terms you may find of assistance

Click accident claim legal dictionary to see to see other legal terms explained in plain English by a specialist solicitor.