How to take a default judgment in California

“Whatever befalls you
Was prepared for you beforehand
From eternity,
And the thread of causes was spinning
From everlasting both your existence
And this which befalls you.”

— Marcus Aurelius

California law is not as fatalistic as Marcus Aurelius. But it does recognize that actions have consequences.

A defendant’s failure to timely respond to a served Complaint allows a plaintiff to take a default judgment. Here are the steps to take in an unlimited personal injury action.

CCP means California Code of Civil Procedure. CRC means California Rules of Court.

Step 1

A lawsuit begins when a Summons and Complaint is served on a defendant. A defendant must file a response within 30 days of service. CCP 585-86. Step 1 is when the defendant fails to timely file his response.

Step 2

Step 2 is when you serve the defendant with the Statement of Damages. It must be served in the same manner as the Complaint if the defendant didn’t appear in the action. CCP 425.11.

If you served the Statement of Damages with the Complaint, you can skip Step 2. Good for you for thinking ahead!

Step 3

Make a request for entry of default using this form. You must do this within 10 days of the day defendant’s response was due.

And on the same form, make a request for entry of court judgment. Prepare a declaration setting out why you are entitled to judgment.

File the form and declaration with the court, along with the Statement of Damages, copy of Summons and Complaint, Proof of Service, and this document. Serve all these documents on the defendant.

Step 4

Contact the court clerk to obtain a date for a “prove-up” hearing. Appear on the hearing date and “prove-up” your damages before the judge. Next, the judge should issue a default judgment in your favor.

Questions? Contact Me for a free consultation.

Close Menu