What happens if the parties, Plaintiff or Defendant, do not show up in Court for the trial?
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE PERSON I AM SUING (the Defendant) DOES NOT SHOW UP FOR COURT?
If the Defendant does now show up for the trial, the Plaintiff can ask for a default judgment against the Defendant. For the Judge to grant the default judgment, the Plaintiff still must prove to the Judge that:
(1) There is a reasonable probability the Defendant was actually served with the Notice of Claim.
(2) So far the Plaintiff knows, the Defendant: (a) is not on active duty in the military, (b) can read, write and understand the English language, (c) has no legal impairment or physical or mental disability that would keep him/her from attending the trial or that would prevent the Defendant from understanding the nature of the proceedings.
(3) The Plaintiff has a valid claim and should recover a money judgment from the Defendant.
The Judge may ask the Plaintiff to testify and to briefly present evidence to prove the claim.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM THE DEFENDANT AND I DO NOT SHOW UP FOR COURT?
If you do not show up for the trial, the Plaintiff can ask for a default judgment against you as above. You will have missed your chance to tell your side of the claim to the judge.
I JUST FOUND OUT A DEFAULT JUDGMENT WAS ENTERED AGAINST ME. WHAT CAN I DO NOW?
If the Defendant later learns about the default judgment and disagrees with it, he/she may file a Motion to Vacate Default Judgment. This usually must be filed within one (1) year from the date the default judgment was entered.
If the Motion is properly filed, the Judge may schedule a court date to consider and hear evidence about the Motion. Or the Judge may rule on the Motion without a hearing. The party asking the Judge to vacate or cancel the default judgment must show "good cause" meaning a very good reason for vacating the default judgment. If the Judge does vacate the judgment, the case will be scheduled for a new trial on the original claims of the parties just as if the default judgment never happened. Small Claims Rule 10.
If more than one (1) year has passed, the Defendant may still file an action to vacate the default judgment but must do so only by strictly following Trial Rule 60(B) of the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure. This can be a complicated procedure for which it would be best to speak with a lawyer.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE PERSON SUING ME (the Plaintiff) DOES NOT SHOW UP IN COURT FOR THE TRIAL?
If the Plaintiff does not show up for the trial and the Defendant does appear, if the Defendant asks, the Court may dismiss the case without prejudice. This means the Plaintiff may refile the case again within the statute of limitations. But the Plaintiff must start all over with a new Notice of Claim and pay the filing fees (court costs) and service fees again. The original filing fee and service fees will not be credited to the new filing and cannot be refunded.
If the Plaintiff does refile the case and again fails to appear at trial, the Small Claims Rules say the Court may dismiss with case with prejudice. A dismissal with prejudice will prevent the Plaintiff from ever being permitted to sue on the same dispute or claim. A case dismissed with prejudice can never be refiled. Small Claims Rule 10(A).
If the Plaintiff fails to appear for the trial and the Defendant appear and has filed a counterclaim, the Judge may enter a default judgment against the Plaintiff based on the Defendant's counterclaim, assuming the Defendant satisfied all the requirements for a default judgment.