Proof of Service: Small Claims Court Must-Knows

May 1, 2023 9 min read
ABC Legal Services

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ABC Legal Services

As a business owner, your top priority is to keep your company running smoothly. If you've found yourself in a situation where you need to pursue a small claims action to receive proper payment, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed about what to expect.

The good news is that ABC Legal is here to help. In this blog, we'll outline some common reasons you might need to go to small claims court. We'll also walk you through what steps you'll need to take to obtain proper proof of service for small claims court, how to identify the best process server to work with, and what to expect after you hire a process server.

Let's dive in!   

Why You May Need to Use a Small Claims Court Process Server  

When you're trying to collect a debt from someone else—whether “someone else” is an individual or another business—you have two options: You can either hire a debt collector or go to small claims court.

The benefit of small claims court is that it's a relatively straightforward process for resolving civil matters. Expense can sometimes be minor. Whether you need an attorney will depend on the complexity of your case and whether you’re in a state that requires you to represent yourself. Sometimes, just starting legal action can be enough for the opposing party to resolve the situation with you, which is always a relief!

One note: There is a monetary cap on how much money you can seek in small claims court. The maximum varies by state, so, you'll need to examine your state's laws before initiating a claim.

You'll also want to do some research into how long you have to file your case, as well as selecting the right court venue. (PS: ABC Legal offers a venue selection tool for our clients to help confirm proper court selection.)

Businesses can pursue small claims actions for a number of reasons. Some common ones include:

  • You've worked with a subcontractor who left work unfinished or didn't deliver on what they agreed to do
  • You have issues with a contractual business relationship you want to dispute
  • You've received subpar goods from a supplier
  • You worked with a customer who hasn't paid their outstanding bills 

Once you've decided that small claims court is the arena where you want to handle your issue, you'll need to file your case with the court and then notify the other party of your lawsuit. The court will provide you with documents for this notice of the legal action.

How the delivery of the documents, or “service of process,” occurs will depend on your state laws. In some instances, anyone who is at least 18 years of age and is an impartial third party to the case can function as a process server. Some states will have the option of using the local sheriff. In many courts, you can hire a professional process server who specializes in service of process and will follow all legal requirements for delivering documents, such as ABC Legal.  

Steps Involved in Small Claims Court Service of Process

Whether you're using small claims court to collect a past-due bill or resolve a dispute with another business, the steps involved are generally the same:

  1. File: The first step is to identify who the opposing party in your case is and then file what's called a "complaint," where you detail exactly what you're asking for.
  2. Serve: Work with a process server or another unbiased delivery agent to make sure the opposing party receives proper notice of your claim. Formal notice has to happen before anything else can move forward with your case. Proof of service must be filed with the court to finalize service of process.
  3. Appear: After service of process is complete, you'll appear in court and make your case.
  4. Resolve: The judge will enter a verdict on your case—hopefully in your favor! If that's the case, you'll need to look into how to collect on your judgment.  

It's incredibly important that the second step—service of process—be done right. You want service of process that can hold up in court, so your case proceeds without issue.

What to Look for in a Small Claims Court Process Server

What should you look for in a small claims court process server to keep your case on track? ABC Legal works with businesses like yours to carry out proof of service for small claims cases every day. Here are some things we believe are important to consider:  

  • National footprint (and beyond, if needed) and familiarity with applicable local laws and regulations
  • Easy order process that gets things going, without delay
  • Real-time monitoring of order progress so you know what's going on 24/7
  • An account that allows you to track progress and your info in one place
  • Solid proof of service in small claims cases—we call our proof of service for small claims "ironclad" for a reason! We back up each serve with photos, GPS coordinates, and other pertinent details so there will be no question of evidence.
  • Testimonials that increase your confidence in the company you hire 

Working with a reliable process server to secure small claims proof of service from the start is essential. If improper steps are taken, it’s much harder to start over and proceed through proper completion of service of process. Similarly, if insufficient evidence of the serve has been secured along the way, you may face difficulty having the process server appear in court to provide their declaration of service, and for the serve to stand up to court challenge. When you work with the right process server at the outset, you will be best positioned for an efficient and effective result.

Small Claims Proof of Service

ABC Legal Services

Written by

ABC Legal Services
Trusted by over 50,000 professionals, ABC Legal is America’s leading process server. Our cloud-based system seamlessly streamlines document delivery across all devices. With a network of 3,000+ servers spanning 50 states and 77 countries, our platform provides real-time updates for our 6 million+ annual attempts, enhancing transparency, compliance, and reliability.

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