Defenses to a Default Judgment in Florida

Defenses to a Default Judgment in Florida

While getting a default judgment is not a good development in regards to legal action, it does not mean the end of the road. Florida’s Rules of Civil Procedure state, “On motion and upon such terms as are just, the court may relieve a party or a party’s legal representative from a final judgment, decree, order or proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect . . . .”

This law acts as a road map for potential default relief.

Excusable Neglect

Defenses to a Default Judgment in Florida

To be eligible for this defense, the defaulting individual has to give a reason for failing to reply in a timely fashion. Reasons such as “I forgot,” however, will not be enough to meet the requirement  Well-known excusable examples of this neglect typically arise from significant life issues like hospitalizations, medical problems, and emergencies impacting members of your immediate family.

Another example is if both parties were involved in settlement negotiations and one person believed in good faith that the other person was not going to seek a default judgment. If this can be corroborated, a judge could conceivably put aside the default. This prevents a technicality from allowing one person to win unfairly when the other person is trying to resolve the issue without going to trial. 

Meritorious Defense

Even when a judge permits the excusable neglect defense, they cannot put the default judgment aside unless the person claiming it is able to prove they also have a meritorious defense

The purpose of a meritorious defense is to put aside a default judgment in the event there is a genuine dispute of law or fact that has to be resolved. For instance, if a case originates from a car accident for which both drivers say the other was liable.

The defendant, however, neglects to answer a motion, causing the court to enter a default judgment against them. If the defendant is unable to provide sufficient evidence showing that the other driver was liable, then it is very unlikely that the court will put aside the default judgment, even in situations where the defendant had a valid excusable neglect defense.

If the defendant is able to provide sufficient evidence showing the other party was to blame, then a judge would be able to put aside the default and allow a trier of fact (i.e., a jury) to determine the outcome.

As with every kind of personal injury case, the endless number of variables makes your claim unique. Someone with a case that sounds very similar to yours could end up with a very different outcome than what you should expect. This is just one of the many reasons why hiring a skilled attorney is beneficial to your Florida personal injury claim

Your attorney will know the most thorough and efficient way of collecting vital evidence that proves you were not at fault for the accident. Establishing this fact is essential to the success of your Tampa personal injury case.

If you have sustained injuries during any kind of accident that was caused by another person’s negligence or carelessness, there is evidence out there that will substantiate your claim. A reputable personal injury attorney from Fulgencio Law will be able to help you. Call us at (813) 463-0123 to schedule your free Tampa personal injury consultation today.

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