April 14, 2024


Equality opinion

Why Winning a Default Judgment Isn’t Necessarily Good News

Imagine being a landlord filing suit against a delinquent tenant. Rent dispute cases can be difficult to win, but you decide to press on. The court date arrives, and the tenant doesn’t show. You win a default judgment. Go ahead and enjoy your victory for the moment but realize that it might be short-lived.

Winning a default judgment is not necessarily good news. Think about it. Why are default judgments rendered? Because defendants don’t show up. They are not there to defend themselves, so courts have no choice but to rule in favor of the plaintiffs. A default judgment is essentially a forfeiture. In the end, this could mean more trouble for the creditor.

What a No-Show Means

Common sense seems to dictate that you show up for court if you are sued. At the very least, you want the opportunity to tell your side of the story. So think about what it means when a defendant is a no-show. It probably means that they know a loss is imminent and have no intention of paying.

If a defendant doesn’t have the courage to come to court and face a judge, what are the chances that they are going to cooperate with collection efforts? In all likelihood, not very good. A defendant who does not show up is probably not going to answer interrogatories. They are not likely to furnish information about employment status, place of residence, etc.

You Have To Go on the Offensive

Winning a civil court case is just the start of getting satisfaction. If you ever hope to get paid by a no-show defendant, you need to go on the offensive. You need to take the game to the defendant instead of waiting for that person to come to you.

Many plaintiffs turn to their attorneys for collection. That seems like a logical choice, but upwards of 80% of all judgments never get collected. Maybe it’s because most judgment creditors do not turn collection over to their attorneys. But it could also be that attorneys do not have a vested interest in aggressively pursuing collection.

The best way to go on the offensive is to bring in a collection agency that specializes in judgments. Judgment Collectors, out of Salt Lake City, is the perfect example of such an agency. They pursue judgments in 11 states including Utah, Arizona, and California.

No-Shows Don’t Bother Them

One of the great things about working with a collection agency is that no-shows do not bother them. A defendant not showing up in court doesn’t deter collection agencies from tracking down both debtors and their assets. Needless to say that a good agency can get results more effectively than creditors trying to collect on their own.

Collection agencies rely on public records, proprietary databases, social media, and even relatives to find assets defendants are trying to hide. Judgment Collectors once found an airplane hangar the debtor didn’t think anyone knew about. He paid up pretty quickly.

Agencies also turn to skip tracing when defendants attempt to leave town unnoticed. Skip tracing is as much intuition as it is investigative science. When it is done well, defendants have a challenging time hiding forever.

It is Anything but Easy

Winning a lawsuit and collecting big money might look easy on TV and in the movies. In reality, it is anything but. Even winning a default judgment is no guarantee of getting paid. Default judgments might be the hardest of all to satisfy because the same defendants who don’t bother to show up to court do not make a real effort to pay.