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What Happens if the Defendant Doesn’t Respond in a Personal Injury Case?

If you’re hurt and your injuries could be the fault of someone else’s negligence, you may have a personal injury claim. When you hire a personal injury attorney, they will negotiate against the insurance adjuster. An attorney is an important part of this process because the entire goal of the adjuster is to pay as little as possible to settle claims.

personal injury case

The insurance company is liable for your losses and damages if you show the insured person caused the accident.

There are a set of steps that are followed in the personal injury process. While there can be differences depending on what state you’re in, there are general similarities.

You, as the person filing the claim, are known as the plaintiff. The person who is responsible for your injuries is the defendant.  Its important to find the right lawyer such as motorcycle accident lawyers, car accident, etc.

As part of the process, the person being sued, also known as the defendant, has to file a response to your lawsuit within a certain period of time.

Depending on the rules where the lawsuit was filed, the answer may contain certain elements.

What’s Included in an “Answer?”

Some of the things in an answer include a general denial of all allegations and perhaps a denial of certain specific allegations. There may also be defenses included in the answer.

In a lot of states, the answer is filed on a standard court-approved form.

There are different ways that the answer might poke holes, so to speak, in the personal injury case.

For example, in a negligence claim, there’s something called causation. That’s a critical link between the actions of the defendant and the plaintiff’s injuries. If the lawsuit filed by you as the plaintiff doesn’t show a clear link via causation, the defendant may not have any liability for injuries.

Another defense could be that the statute of limitations has come to an end in the case.

The statute of limitations is the time a plaintiff can wait to file a lawsuit. In most states for filing personal injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations is one or two years from the date of the injury or accident.

The response from the defendant might focus on a reduction in compensation that must be paid to the plaintiff because the plaintiff’s action or inaction played a role in the accident or worsened the losses.

What if the Defendant Doesn’t Respond?

One of the first steps your attorney takes in a personal injury lawsuit is filing a complaint. If the defendant responds, then things progress normally and follow the process.

What happens if the defendant ignores your complaint, however?

In civil cases, if a defendant ignores the claim, you may be entitled to a default judgment.

A default judgment is when a complaint is ignored and not responded to by the defendant.

There are pros and cons of a default judgment.

If a defendant lets a certain number of days go by without a response, then you can apply for a default judgment, which is essentially the same as any other type of judgment.

You don’t have to worry about a lawsuit being dismissed when the defendant wins if there’s a default judgment, so that’s an upside.

Simultaneously, if someone ignores a lawsuit it could mean they view themselves as having nothing to lose. That means a judgment is worthless.

A judgment has to be executed to be of any value to you. Then you’d have to file a lien against the assets of the defendant, and if they don’t have assets, you might not ever get any money.

In order to get a judgment, the defendants have to be properly served.

This means the defendant in your personal injury case must have fair notice of proceedings, and they must have the opportunity to respond.

If the rules for service aren’t followed, a judgment can’t be issued.

It’s also worth noting that defaults aren’t automatic if there’s no response from the other side. You have to ask the court for this. Until you specifically ask for a judgment, the other side can file a response, even if it goes past the deadline.

If damages aren’t clear or you’re asking for something beyond financial compensation, a judge has to look at the case and determine the judgment.

These situations are fairly rare, but it is possible that when you file a claim, there is no response from the defendant. The best thing to do is work with a professional personal injury attorney.

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