Legal Guide: How to Enter a Default Judgment in California Personal Injury/Wrongful Death Cases
A defendant is “in default” as soon as the defendant fails to file a responsive pleading (e.g. an Answer or a Demurrer) within the statutory time limit. This means little until the clerk “enters a default” against the defendant. The plaintiff must make an application for the clerk to enter a default judgement.
Upon receiving the above documents, the court clerk may set the matter for hearing before a judge. In some counties the plaintiff has to call the court to find out when and where the hearing will be. Check with the local court as to their procedures. In some counties the clerk simply gives the papers to the judge, and the judge then decides whether he or she can render judgement on the submitted papers, or whether a live “prove up” hearing is required.
Whether done by declarations or by a live hearing, the plaintiff will have to prove up their damages be submitting evidence of the extent of their damages. The judge acts as gatekeeper to make sure that a reasonable judgement is entered. Check with the local court as to whether the judge prefers live testimony or declarations/affidavits. [CCP 585].
This page is not legal advice, and there is no guarantee that this information is up to date. Feel free to contact attorney Phoenix Thottam if you should need legal advice at (310) 497-7255.
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