Title 9, Chapter 11, Section 55
(a) 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.
(b) 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.