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Setting Aside a Default Judgment

If you were sued by a creditor and you failed to appear or file a timely answer, you probably had a default judgment entered against you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking there is nothing you can do about a default judgment. Many times there are good excuses for why you didn’t appear or file an answer. If so, you can seek to have the default judgment set aside.

So, what is “good cause” for failing to answer the lawsuit? The two primary, valid reasons for not doing what you were supposed to do include:

  • There was a defect in the process that led to the default judgment, or
  • You have a “reasonable excuse”

You must also establish that you have a valid defense to the plaintiff’s claims.

Substantial defect

An irregularity in the proceedings that resulted in the default means that there was a procedural error in the way the case was handled. Most commonly, the procedural error was that you were not properly served with the lawsuit papers (typically, a summons and complaint or petition). For example, if the lawsuit was served on your 10-year old who fails to give them to you, the service of process is defective. However, if your 10-year old gives you the paperwork that same day, it will be difficult to prove a defect because you were properly informed about the lawsuit.

Reasonable excuse

The court understands that there are certain events in life that provide you a “reasonable excuse” for not responding to the plaintiff’s allegations against you. For example, if you can prove you were in the hospital on the day of your hearing, the judge will likely find that to be a valid reason for setting aside the default judgment.


In order to set aside a default judgment, the court will want to know if you have a meritorious defense to the plaintiff’s allegations. In other words, you should explain why you deserve another day in court. We can review your individual circumstances and help you determine if you have a valid defense to the collection case.

Contact our California Debtor Protection Law Firm with your questions, comments, and concerns, or for a free consultation. Speak to a CA credit card lawsuit and collection harassment lawyer at our firm today.

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