In California, as a general rule, defendants who have been served with a lawsuit, have 30 days to respond. If the defendant, after being properly served with the summons and complaint, fails to respond within that 30-day period, the plaintiff has a right to obtain a default in the lawsuit against that defendant.
If a defendant’s default has been taken in the lawsuit, it creates big problems for that defendant in the lawsuit. Once the defendant’s default has been taken, he/she cannot defend or even appear in the lawsuit. If this happens, and the defaulted defendant takes no further action, the defaulted defendant’s case becomes an uncontested matter, which means that the plaintiff can present whatever facts the plaintiff chooses to the Court, which evidence cannot be countered by the defaulted defendant. This makes it almost a certainty that the plaintiff will obtain a judgment against the defaulted defendant, and this process typically happens very, very quickly.
Even though a defendant has had their default taken in a lawsuit, however, all may not be lost for the defaulted defendant. If the defendant has a reasonable explanation as to why the default occurred and acted diligently in trying to undo or set aside the default, the Court has the power, authority, and obligation in many instances to set aside the default, enabling the defaulted defendant to appear and defend in the lawsuit.
If your default has been taken, it is very, very important that you act very quickly. Because of the diligence requirement, every day that goes by without doing anything to set aside the default, reduces the likelihood that the Court will set aside your default.
I regularly represent clients in California throughout the Bay Area and in the East Bay, California, to file motions to set aside defaults and then represent the clients in the ongoing lawsuit. If you have questions, or need representation by a California attorney, involving setting aside a default taken against you, please feel free to contact me to arrange for a consultation at (510) 465-0025.