default judgment

Primary tabs

A default judgment (also known as judgment by default) is a ruling granted by a judge or court in favor of a plaintiff in the event that the defendant in a legal case fails to respond to a court summons or does not appear in court. The default decision may be vacated if the defendant can establish valid reasons for not appearing in court or ignoring a summons. Federal Rule 37(b)(2)(v) states a person who fails to appear as required in court can be found in default. Unless proof of damages is necessary, the default decision will take damages into account if they were included in the complaint. Default judgment criteria and rulings could be different in different jurisdictions.

[Last updated in February of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]