What is a default judgment in an Oklahoma lawsuit?

To answer that question, we need to start by understanding what a “judgment” is and what it means to be “in default” in an Oklahoma lawsuit.

A judgment is a formal decision by the court that tells who won the case and what the winner gets.  To get to the judgment phase in a lawsuit . . .

The party that files the lawsuit, the Plaintiff, file a Petition to kick off the process.  In the Petition, the Plaintiff lays out its claims and what it wants to get paid based on its claim.  The Plaintiff is required to “serve” the Petition on you.  This means either you will receive a visit from a licensed Oklahoma process server or you will receive a certified mail envelope that you need to sign for.

You have 20 days from the date the Plaintiff can prove you were served to file an answer to the Petition with the court where the case is filed and send a copy to the Plaintiff.  If you do not file an answer within 20 days, you are technically in default.

So,  a default judgment means you didn’t answer within the required time period and the court decided you lose because of your failure to answer.  The Plaintiff wins without finishing out the game.  The Plaintiff can take its default judgment and begin to try to collect on it.  An example of what a default judgment looks like is below:

Default judgment

Posted by Shawn Roberts

On this blog, I write about and try to answer practical Oklahoma legal questions. My focus and most experience is in estate planning and business issues including Oklahoma non-compete law. I make a living as an attorney in the law firm I founded, Shawn J. Roberts, P.C. in Oklahoma City. I live in Edmond with my wife Amy and my two children, Sam (19) and David (11). We live precisely in the path of where the "wind comes sweeping down the plains."