At some point in our lives, all of us will be in some sort of car accident. Thankfully, most of these are minor. You may back into a parked car at a busy shopping mall. Or someone might rear-end you when you’re sitting in bumper-to-bumper traffic. These things happen. Most of the time, the drivers call the cops, exchange insurance information and it gets resolved rather quickly. There are times, however, when the insurance company decides they don’t want to pay your claim. Or they only agree to pay part of it. When this happens, your Atlanta car accident lawyer may have no choice but to file suit.
If you do file a lawsuit against the other driver, you’d expect to hear back from them. Maybe they’ll hire an attorney to deal with it. Or they may call and say they’re disputing the facts in the complaint. That’s because, most of the time, people do respond to a lawsuit. Very few people would just ignore it. If someone does, you’d imagine they have a good reason for doing so. Here, we’ll talk about what to do if someone ignores your car accident lawsuit in Georgia.
Your Atlanta Car Accident Lawyer Will Have to Personally Serve the Defendant
According to the court rules in Georgia, when you sue somebody, you have to personally serve them with a copy of the complaint. Service is just a fancy way of saying you personally delivered a copy of the lawsuit to the other driver. Very rarely does an attorney do this on their own. There are companies that specialize in doing this. Or you can send it via the certified mail and wait to see if they sign the return card. If they do, it’s considered served. If they don’t respond at all, then the court may say they weren’t properly served, and you have to try again.
The Other Driver Has Thirty (30) Days to File a Response
When a defendant gets served with a civil complaint, they only have thirty (30) days to respond. This response must be filed with the court. It also must be in writing. The defendant can’t just call the court and say they don’t owe the money. Nor can they call your attorney or send them a letter disputing the case. They must file a written response with the court. If they don’t do it within the 30 days, your Atlanta car accident lawyer can file a motion for a default judgment.
Why Would Someone Ignore a Lawsuit?
There are all sorts of reasons why someone would ignore an Atlanta car accident lawsuit. They may not have seen it. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt can be hard. But their spouse or adult child may have gotten the paperwork and put it down somewhere, forgetting to remind them later. Or they thought they had longer to respond than they really did. They may be going from the date they signed for the letter instead of the day the complaint was filed.
Of course, there are times when someone knows they’ve been sued, and they just don’t care. Perhaps they don’t have car insurance and have no defense. Or maybe they have no money so they figure there’s nothing you can do to them. Since you must serve a copy of the complaint on their insurance company (if you have their info) this is rare. Someone should respond within the 30-day period.
Default Judgment Isn’t Necessarily a Good Thing
Some people think it’s a good thing that the defendant ignored the papers. They figure getting a default judgment is as good as winning. While this may be technically true, it isn’t exactly a good sign. If someone is willing to ignore your lawsuit, they probably have no assets to protect. Your judgment may not be worth much more than the paper it’s printed on. In other cases, the defendant may be missing in action. If they’ve moved and have a common name, your Atlanta car accident lawyer may never find them.
Schedule Your Free Consultation with One of Our Experienced Car Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been involved in a car accident and fear the defendant’s insurance won’t pay, you need help. There’s a good chance you’ll have to file suit. An experienced Atlanta car accident lawyer can do this for you. Call and schedule your free, initial consultation as soon as possible after the crash. This way, your attorney has plenty of time to prepare your case.