Failure to File a Timely Answer
Failure to file a Timely Answer to Summon & Complaint may result in Default Judgment against you
A defendant is required to respond to a complaint that has been filed by the plaintiff (the person suing) within the time period set by law, usually 20 to 30 days. If the defendant fails to file a timely answer, the plaintiff can ask the court to enter a default judgment. If the plaintiff presents evidence supporting the claims contained in the complaint, the court can render a default judgment against the defendant. The trial court has discretion to grant or deny a default judgment. The amount of the judgment cannot be greater than the dollar amount claimed by the plaintiff in the complaint. The trial court will hold a hearing, if necessary, to determine the amount of damages if a specific dollar amount is not stated in the complaint.
You may have a chance to open up a Default Judgment that was ruled against you?
O.C.G.A.§ 9-11-55. Default Judgment:
(a) When case in default; opening as matter of right; judgment. If in any case an answer has not been filed within the time required by this chapter, the case shall automatically become in default unless the time for filing the answer has been extended as provided by law. The default may be opened as a matter of right by the filing of such defenses within 15 days of the day of default, upon the payment of costs. If the case is still in default after the expiration of the period of 15 days, the plaintiff at any time thereafter shall be entitled to verdict and judgment by default, in open court or in chambers, as if every item and paragraph of the complaint or other original pleading were supported by proper evidence, without the intervention of a jury, unless the action is one ex delicto or involves unliquidated damages, in which event the plaintiff shall be required to introduce evidence and establish the amount of damages before the court without a jury, with the right of the defendant to introduce evidence as to damages and the right of either to move for a new trial in respect of such damages; provided, however, in the event a defendant, though in default, has placed damages in issue by filing a pleading raising such issue, either party shall be entitled, upon demand, to a jury trial of the issue as to damages. An action based upon open account shall not be considered one for unliquidated damages within the meaning of this Code section.
(b) Opening default. At any time before final judgment, the court, in its discretion, upon payment of costs, may allow the default to be opened for providential cause preventing the filing of required pleadings or for excusable neglect or where the judge, from all the facts, shall determine that a proper case has been made for the default to be opened, on terms to be fixed by the court. In order to allow the default to be thus opened, the showing shall be made under oath, shall set up a meritorious defense, shall offer to plead instanter, and shall announce ready to proceed with the trial.
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