What Happens If You Don't Come to Court for a Civil Claim?

Civil claims are court cases between two entities -- individuals or companies -- involving disputes. Civil lawsuits arise after accidents, failing to pay debts and property disputes, along with a myriad of other reasons. When a civil claim is filed, the court will set a date for a hearing before a judge who will decide the case. Failure of either party to appear at the hearing can have dire consequences.

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If you are sued because someone falls on your property, it is a civil claim.

Dismissal

If you are the plaintiff -- the person who filed the lawsuit -- and you fail to appear in court, the judge can dismiss the case with prejudice. This will prevent you from filing another case against the defendant for the same cause.

Default Judgment

If you are the defendant in a civil case and you fail to appear in court, the judge can decide the case in the plaintiff's favor and enter a judgment against you for the full amount of the suit, plus any court costs and attorney fees.

Garnishment

If you receive a default judgment for failure to appear, you will receive no opportunity to contest the verdict. After a plaintiff gets the judgment, he will be able file papers to garnish your wages or place a lien on your property.

Alternatives

As soon as you discover that you cannot appear at a scheduled hearing, contact the court to inform it of the situation and ask for a postponement. If you cannot give notice before the hearing, call or send someone to the court to explain why you cannot be there.