What Is a Small Claims Court Default Judgement?

A default judgment in small claims court is a money judgment that the court enters against a defendant who fails to defend against a claim brought against him, according to the Civil Law Self-Help Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. This typically involves the defendant failing to appear at the court hearing or failing to answer the written summons and complaint.

To obtain the default judgment, the plaintiff must first appear before the court and prove that the defendant was properly served with notice of the action and hearing. The failure of a defendant to appear or otherwise answer the claim does not guarantee automatic victory; the plaintiff must still appear and prove to the court that the defendant owe the plantiff money, according to Nolo. The plaintiff need not make a complicated argument; he simply needs to make a basic showing of facts to support the claim against the defendant. If, on the other hand, the plaintiff fails to appear for the hearing, then the judge can and usually does dismiss the claim.

A favorable judgment in small claims court, be it by default or otherwise, does not guarantee payment, according to the Minnesota Judicial Branch website. Rather, the prevailing party is responsible for collecting payment.