What Does a Process Server Do?

Nov 23, 2021 5 min read

If a dictionary were to supply a process server definition, it would read something like, “A process server is a trained professional who serves legal documents to defendants who are named in a court proceeding.” It sounds simple, but their role in the legal process is crucial. Process servers are unbiased third parties whose job is to deliver legal documents — often by hand –– to defendants. While performing that duty, they must also provide proper documentation that complies with local laws and keep proper records of their service of process that would be admissible in court should the need ever arise. Different states have different requirements when it comes to the licensing, certification, and registration of process servers. It’s essential that your law firm uses a process server that is compliant with all relevant laws in their jurisdiction.

What Is Service of Process?

It would be fundamentally unfair if someone could be sued without knowing they had been sued — and lost the opportunity to be aware of or contest the suit — and lost their case as a result. Enter the role of process server. Process servers are trained to find individuals and ensure that they are given notice of a legal action that is being taken against them. Proper service of process is required before a legal proceeding can get underway. Whether the person who is served decides to avail themselves of legal counsel or not following service of process is of no concern. Merely being put on notice is enough. A defendant ignores the serving of legal documents at their own peril.

What Needs to Be Served?

You can’t simply declare you’re going to sue somebody and leave it at that. You must follow the proper legal process. A lawsuit begins when a petition or a complaint is filed with the court. At that point, the court will issue a summons. A summons outlines the complaint and serves as a formal notice to a defendant that a lawsuit has been filed against them. Additional documents beyond the summons may need to be served to the defendant, depending on the nature of the lawsuit as well as regulations specific to the defendant’s location. In every situation, a defendant must be given documents that are accurate and true.

Who Needs to Be Served?

As you have probably gleaned by now, people need to be served. However, if a lawsuit names more than one defendant, then each and every adult who is listed in the lawsuit must receive service of process. It’s also important to note that service of process is not limited to people. Corporations, partnerships, counties, cities and other entities that may be the subject of a lawsuit must also be given court documents. Of course, a process server can’t simply walk up to a company’s headquarters, slap a document against the window and call it a day. Typically, documents must be delivered to an agent who is acting on behalf of the entity named in the lawsuit. There may be different requirements for serving process, depending on the type of entity being sued and what they’re being sued for.

Who Can Take on a Process Server Job?

In general, most states aren’t overly restrictive when it comes to the requirements for working as a process server. Although regulations differ from place to place, most of the time a process server must be an unbiased third-party. That is, an adult who has no interest in the case at hand. Neither the plaintiff nor defendant can serve one another with legal documents, nor can the person who is acting as the process server benefit from or otherwise be affected by the outcome of the case. Some states have additional requirements, including a residency requirement or certification for process servers. In every instance, it’s crucial to follow state regulations concerning how process is to be served, when service attempts may be made and how the service is verified.

Many jurisdictions also allow law enforcement officers or local sheriffs to serve process. Because regulations can differ from place to place, and are often complex, it’s best to use a licensed process server to ensure that you avoid any type of liability or otherwise impact the outcome of your case due to an error being made when the documents were served.

What Constitutes Proof of Service?

Proof of service, sometimes referred to as return of service or, when notarized, an affidavit of service, is a document that must be filled out according to local regulations in order to complete the service of process in most states. The person performing the process server job must sign the proof of service, effectively swearing under oath that service was carried out. The document records the who, what, where, when and how of the papers being served. Once this form is complete the process server is legally liable for any issues that may arise from how the process serving was performed.

Find Out More About How ABC Legal Can Help Your Law Firm

It can be stressful to trust in the credentials presented by an independent process server. Some servers may be great at their job, while others may be lacking in certain skills. Also notable is that firms that handle cases in multiple states may work with multiple process servers governed by different requirements according to location. Vetting the expertise and credentials of the process server can be challenging—unless you work with the right partner.

When you need to use a process server, working with a reputable company such as ABC Legal can put your mind at ease. ABC Legal has a network of process servers around the country who can quickly and efficiently deliver legal documents to the intended parties. You can count on ABC Legal to ensure that your next process server will have the appropriate expertise and will abide by state rules and regulations.

Say goodbye to the days of wildly inconsistent process servers. ABC Legal can help ensure your documents get to the right person, on time. To learn more about how ABC Legal can help your law firm, we invite you to start a conversation with us or place an order in minutes to see how easy service of process can be.

Todd Harrison

Written by

Todd Harrison
Professional Writer & Attorney. Todd is a licensed attorney who brings more than 10 years of legal marketing knowledge to write for ABC Legal. He is dedicated to making high-concept legal topics accessible to people from all walks of life.

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