When you file your suit, the clerk will provide you with the pre-trial date. If at pre-trial, the claim is contested, the case will be set for trial at a later date. Once a trial date is scheduled it may only be continued by a judge or if it is settled, a dismissal will remove it from the schedule. If the defendant does not appear, it may be that he/she was not served with the complaint and summons.
If this is the case, then you must prepare an Alias Summons and in most cases, it will then be necessary to have the Sheriff serve the Alias Summons. An Alias Summons will cost $5.00. The plaintiff and/or the plaintiff's attorney must always appear on the summons return date, regardless of whether or not service has been made. (Failure to appear may result in the case being dismissed for want of prosecution).