A judgment is a decision by a final decision by a court as to the outcome of litigation. In other words, one person or entity sues someone else for some reason. When the judge decides who is right and who is wrong, that’s a judgment.
A judgment can be issued only after a lawsuit is filed. There’s no way to shortcut the process in spite of what you may think. That’s just not how things work in this country. So if someone tells you that they’re going to file a judgment against you, all it really means is that they are going to sue you.
There are two major types of judgments – one is the type that is handed down by a judge after the entire case is presented, and the other which is called a default judgment.
The “Normal” Judgment
Someone sues you, and you file an Answer (that’s the counterpoint to their point, so to speak). From there, you go through the legal arguments and allow one another access to your evidence. You go to trial, and a decision is made.
At some point before the decision is made, you and the other side can enter into a settlement. That’s a point of negotiation, but it’s possible in most instances. If you do settle, that arrangement would likely be finalized as a consent judgment.
The Default Judgment
When someone sues you, you get a certain amount of time to formally answer the complaint. A phone call to the people suing you doesn’t help – it’s got to be formal and in writing. If you don’t formally answer then the other side has the right to ask a judge for a judgment against you. That’s a default judgment.
Image credit: eürodäna/Flickr