The service of process is critical to any type of lawsuit. The law states that upon filing a complaint, the defendant must be made aware that there is a lawsuit filed against them. This act of informing is done through the service of process.
What is Process Service?
Anyone who is over 18 years old and is not party to the case can serve or hand over legal documents to a defendant in person. In theory, the job sounds straightforward and simple; in practice, there could be some complications. Some defendants are already in hiding before the cases against them are filed; others are evasive as soon as they hear that a process server has been coming around bearing legal papers. A lawsuit cannot proceed to court if the defendant wasn’t served correctly or not served at all.
5 Dos and 5 Don’ts of Process Serving
Process servers are expected to do the following:
- Serve documents from Mondays – Saturdays at 6:00 AM – 10:00 PM.
- Wait for the defendant outside their home, place of employment, or usual haunts. Process servers must exhaust all legal means possible to personally serve the defendant, and that includes following the defendant around the city on their known schedule.
- Post the legal documents on the defendant’s front door at home or at their place of employment.
- File court papers on behalf of the plaintiff and their attorneys.
- File subsequent legal documents and retrieve court documents.
Process servers are not allowed to do any of the following, and proof that they violated protocol by committing these 5 Don’ts can result in a dismissal without prejudice.
- Serve documents on Sundays or during a religious holiday observed by the defendant.
- Attempt substituted delivery by leaving the documents with someone who is not a family member or a colleague at work.
- Receiving only one set of papers which you got in the mail, found on your doorstep, or received from a family member or colleague whom the process server asked to deliver legal papers to you. This is a failed process of service because both substituted and conspicuous deliveries require process servers to (1) mail a copy of the documents to the defendant and (2) leave the documents with a qualified individual (substituted delivery) or leave it where the defendant will most likely find it (conspicuous delivery).
- Force the defendant to open the door. If the defendant tries to evade service by hiding, the process server must try a few other methods before resorting to either substituted or conspicuous delivery.
- Trespass or force their way into the defendant’s property after being told explicitly not to.
Knowing these dos and don’ts will be helpful if ever you find yourself at the receiving end of a service process. Let these also be a guide for new process servers who are still getting used to the rules attached to the job.
Hire Process Servers Who Know and Follow the Law
Serve Index LLC has licensed process servers, many of whom have spent years serving legal papers all over New York City. Ensure a fast and successful process service for your clients by hiring Serve Index LLC’s process servers. Contact us anytime.