A default judgment is a ruling granted by a court as a result of the defendant’s failure to respond to a summons or to appear before the court.

It typically occurs in civil cases when one party does not meet the basic procedural steps, such as filing a formal response to the allegations brought by the plaintiff.

In effect, the defendant, by failing to participate, forfeits their right to present their side of the case and the court proceeds to make a decision based on the plaintiff’s argument and evidence alone. This generally leads to a judgment in the plaintiff’s favor, hence it’s called a “default judgment”.

It’s important to note that default judgments can sometimes be set aside or vacated if the defendant can show a valid reason why they didn’t initially respond, such as not being properly served with the summons.

However, rules vary depending on jurisdiction, and time limits often apply.

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