2021 Georgia Code
Title 9 - Civil Practice
Chapter 11 - Civil Practice Act
Article 6 - Trials
§ 9-11-55. Default Judgment

Universal Citation: GA Code § 9-11-55 (2021)
  1. When case in default; opening as matter of right; judgment. If in any case an answer has not been filed within the time required by this chapter, the case shall automatically become in default unless the time for filing the answer has been extended as provided by law. The default may be opened as a matter of right by the filing of such defenses within 15 days of the day of default, upon the payment of costs. If the case is still in default after the expiration of the period of 15 days, the plaintiff at any time thereafter shall be entitled to verdict and judgment by default, in open court or in chambers, as if every item and paragraph of the complaint or other original pleading were supported by proper evidence, without the intervention of a jury, unless the action is one ex delicto or involves unliquidated damages, in which event the plaintiff shall be required to introduce evidence and establish the amount of damages before the court without a jury, with the right of the defendant to introduce evidence as to damages and the right of either to move for a new trial in respect of such damages; provided, however, in the event a defendant, though in default, has placed damages in issue by filing a pleading raising such issue, either party shall be entitled, upon demand, to a jury trial of the issue as to damages. An action based upon open account shall not be considered one for unliquidated damages within the meaning of this Code section.
  2. Opening default. At any time before final judgment, the court, in its discretion, upon payment of costs, may allow the default to be opened for providential cause preventing the filing of required pleadings or for excusable neglect or where the judge, from all the facts, shall determine that a proper case has been made for the default to be opened, on terms to be fixed by the court. In order to allow the default to be thus opened, the showing shall be made under oath, shall set up a meritorious defense, shall offer to plead instanter, and shall announce ready to proceed with the trial.

(Ga. L. 1966, p. 609, § 55; Ga. L. 1967, p. 226, § 24; Ga. L. 1981, p. 769, § 1; Ga. L. 1982, p. 3, § 9.)

Cross references.

- Provision that judge is qualified to try civil case where no defense is filed, irrespective of relationship to party or interest in case, § 15-1-9.

Default judgments, Uniform Superior Court Rules, Rule 15.

Default judgments in state court cases, Uniform State Court Rules, Rule 15.

Default judgments in probate court proceedings, Uniform Rules for the Probate Courts, Rule 13.

U.S. Code.

- For provisions of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 55, see 28 U.S.C.

Law reviews.

- For article surveying Georgia cases dealing with domestic relations from June 1977 through May 1978, see 30 Mercer L. Rev. 59 (1978). For article dealing with prevention of malpractice claims and litigation, see 16 Ga. St. B.J. 68 (1979). For survey article citing developments in Georgia trial practice and procedure from mid-1980 through mid-1981, see 33 Mercer L. Rev. 275 (1981). For survey article on wills, trusts, guardianships, and fiduciary administration, see 60 Mercer L. Rev. 417 (2008). For article, "Discovering Clarity: A Call to Renovate Georgia's Discovery Landscape," see 19 Ga. St. B.J. 11 (April 2014). For note, "Default Judgments Under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and the Georgia Civil Practice Act," see 7 Ga. St. B.J. 385 (1971). For note, "Preferential Treatment of the United States under Federal Civil Discovery Procedures," see 13 Ga. L. Rev. 550 (1979).



  • General Consideration
  • When Case in Default
  • Proof of Damages
  • Opening Default


Am. Jur. 2d.

- 46 Am. Jur. 2d, Judgments, § 232 et seq.

Fraud in Obtaining or Maintaining Default Judgment, 10 POF2d 427.


- 49 C.J.S., Judgments, §§ 253 et seq., 516, 519.


- Duty of court upon opening default to defer vacation of judgment or order until result of trial on merits, 98 A.L.R. 1380.

Abandonment of or withdrawal from case by attorney as ground for opening or setting aside judgment by default, 114 A.L.R. 279.

Filing cross petition or other step amounting of general appearance after judgment based upon valid constructive service as affecting right under statute to open judgment, 122 A.L.R. 159.

Waiver of right to default judgment, 124 A.L.R. 155, 64 A.L.R.5th 163.

Doctrine of res judicata as applied to judgments by default, 128 A.L.R. 472; 77 A.L.R.2d 1410.

Mistaken belief or contention that defendant had not been served, or had not been legally served, with summons, as ground for setting aside default judgment, 153 A.L.R. 449.

Validity, construction, and application of statutes providing for entry of default judgment by clerk without intervention of court or judge, 158 A.L.R. 1091.

Failure of complaint to state cause of action for unliquidated damages as ground for dismissal of action at hearing to determine amount of damages following defendant's default, 163 A.L.R. 496.

Reliance by employee codefendant on promise or assumption that employer would defend in employee's behalf as ground for vacation of default judgment, 16 A.L.R.2d 1139.

Withdrawal or vacation of appearance, 64 A.L.R.2d 1424.

Doctrine of res judicata as applied to default judgments, 77 A.L.R.2d 1410.

Failure of liability insurer, after notification, to defend suit against insured, as warranting opening default against insured on ground of inadvertence or excusable neglect, 87 A.L.R.2d 870.

Propriety of default judgment against defendant, without introduction of evidence, in quo warranto proceeding, 92 A.L.R.2d 1121.

Necessity of taking proof as to liability against defaulting defendant, 8 A.L.R.3d 1070.

Appealability of order setting aside, or refusing to set aside, default judgment, 8 A.L.R.3d 1272.

Defaulting defendant's right to notice and hearing as to determination of amount of damages, 15 A.L.R.3d 586.

Opening default or default judgment claimed to have been obtained because of attorney's mistake as to time or place of appearance, trial, or filing of necessary papers, 21 A.L.R.3d 1255.

Failure to give notice of application for default judgment where notice is required only by custom, 28 A.L.R.3d 1383.

Failure of party or his attorney to appear at pretrial conference, 55 A.L.R.3d 303.

What amounts to "appearance" under statute or rule requiring notice, to party who has "appeared," of intention to take default judgment, 73 A.L.R.3d 1250.

Fraud in obtaining or maintaining default judgment as ground for vacating or setting aside in state courts, 78 A.L.R.3d 150.

Judgment in favor of plaintiff in state court action for defendant's failure to obey request or order to answer interrogatories or other discovery questions, 30 A.L.R.4th 9.

What constitutes "appearance" under Rule 55(b)(2) of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, providing that if party against whom default judgment is sought has "appeared" in action, that party must be served with notice of application for judgment, 139 A.L.R. Fed 603.

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