After filing a civil lawsuit with the court, the next step in the legal process is to inform the named parties to the suit that they are being sued. In theory, this sounds straightforward. However, the process can be much more complex than many people realize. Nuances around proper ways to serve and the need to ensure proof of service will hold up in court are why it is so crucial that you find the right civil process server for your case. If service of process is not carried out according to the laws and regulations of a jurisdiction, then legal proceedings can be delayed or, even worse, thrown out altogether.
The Job Of A Legal Process Server
We have established that the fundamental job of a process server is to deliver legal documents to the named parties in a lawsuit. However, the means of accomplishing this task can vary depending on the case, how easy it is to find a party to the lawsuit, and the laws governing service of process in the jurisdiction where the named party resides.
Every state allows for personal service of process. This method entails physically handing over the required legal documents to the named party. This method of service is preferable. It is tough to argue that service was incomplete or that the party never received the documents when the legal process server can testify that they handed the documents over directly to the intended party.
Things are more complex when personal service isn’t an option. State laws will vary regarding the requirements around the age and the relationship of the party the documents are left with to the individual being served. There are also regulations governing service at a party’s place of work or what constitutes proper service of process via publication. It is essential that any process server you work with has a comprehensive understanding of proper service of process under local regulations to minimize any delays in a legal proceeding.
What Types Of Documents Does A Process Server Deliver?
Process servers are tasked with delivering a wide array of legal documents, including:
There are numerous types of writs for legal proceedings, but essentially a writ is simply a document that informs a party that they are being called into court for the reason outlined in the document.
A complaint is a written statement that sets forth the legal cause of action against the other party. Complaints kick off nearly every type of legal proceeding, from civil cases to family law matters and criminal hearings.
A subpoena informs a party that they are being called into court to provide information related to a lawsuit. A person may be subpoenaed to attend a deposition, bring documents to the courthouse, or to hand over evidence related to the lawsuit.
A summons provides an official notice that a lawsuit has been filed. It is given to a defendant to let them know that they are being sued.
Legal process servers also provide a wide range of other documents to parties in a legal proceeding, including notices of eviction, divorce papers, and bankruptcy petitions.
Always Work With Someone Who Knows The Rules Of Proper Service of Process
Proper service of process is important to keep a legal matter running smoothly. If the party delivering legal documents is unclear on their state’s service of process rules, cases can be delayed or even thrown out. Local regulations can dictate when a process server can attempt at delivery and to whom they can deliver documents.
In additional to being knowledgeable, process servers must meet some basic qualifications, which vary by state. These qualifications range from meeting a simple age requirement to registration or certification requirements, depending on the state. Some states require process servers to be licensed or registered. Other states allow anyone who is over 18 years of age and a neutral third-party to serve legal documents to named parties in a lawsuit.
If service of process is taking place in a state where process servers must be licensed, you will want to make sure that the civil process server you’re working with does, in fact, have an active license. If the matter involves a jurisdiction that is a little looser in terms of regulatory oversight, then check for experience and a demonstrated track record of success.
Questions To Ask A Process Server
When considering whether to hire a process server, several questions can help determine whether they will be up for the task. Always be sure to ask your legal process server:
How long do you expect service of process to take?
The amount of time it takes to deliver legal documents varies from case to case. In some situations, routine service of process may run into unforeseen obstacles that can cause the process to take longer. Nonetheless, a civil process server should be able to provide you with a reasonable estimate regarding when attempts on an address should begin after you provide information regarding the party being served, as well as the overall pacing for subsequent attempts. Having typical timing in mind is especially important should you need rush service.
How do you locate people?
Not every service of process goes smoothly. Sometimes a party’s address may be out of date. In other instances, a person may not want to be found. It’s important to understand the types of tools the civil process server will use to find the intended recipient, and to ensure that whatever methods they use are carried out ethically and according to the law.
How comfortable are you with technology?
Technology can significantly aid efficiency and communication. Will you receive real-time updates regarding how service of process is progressing? Do you have to call to get an answer? When a process server doesn’t embrace technological tools or balks at keeping you in the loop on status, it’s a sign to look elsewhere.
ABC Legal Can Meet All Of Your Service Of Process Needs
Service of process can be a complicated task. Details are important and getting the job done right the first time is crucial. Understanding the role of a process server in your legal matter and placing your trust in having your legal documents delivered to the right party is essential. Asking the right questions of a process server or a process server vendor can go a long way toward putting your mind at ease.
Don’t trust just anyone with your service of process needs. ABC Legal is the national leader in service of process. We will ensure your service of process needs are met by experienced, qualified process servers. Our process server partners work in all 50 states and in numerous countries around the world. Each is backed with the knowledge and technologies to ensure your documents are delivered efficiently and effectively. ABC Legal validates every service against your court’s rules and regulations.