What to do if I was involved in an accident and now have a judgment against me?

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What to do if I was involved in an accident and now have a judgment against me?

I was 17 years old at the time. No tickets were issued; it was noted as to weather related. However, there was a judgment made against me last month in the circuit court for $3,024.57. I was not aware that I had to be in court or I would have shown up. I do not know how to move forward with this. They want me to turn a finacial statement.

Asked on February 4, 2014 under Accident Law, Arkansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you were never properly served (provided with) the summons and complaint, and if that was why you did not appear in court, you may have grounds to have the judgment set aside for lack of service--though nothing will stop them from re-serving you and starting over. If you were at fault (e.g. driving carelessly), then you would presumably lose, even if you get a new trial.

If you were properly served but simply did not understand that you had to show up, you can make a motion to have the default (and judgment) against you dismissed, but there is a good chance you will not succeed--the courts will typically only cut you slack and give you another chance if you had some good reason, beyond simply not understanding that you were suppposed to show up, for your non-appearance. (For example: you were in the hospital.)

If  you can't get the judgment dismissed *and* win any retrial, you'll have to pay: you may wish to speak to the other side about settling the matter for less than the full amount (e.g. if you could pay the lesser amount immediately, instead of making them wait and/or take collections efforts) or with a payment plan over time you can afford.


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