Serving legal papers at a high-security location or a sensitive situation is more challenging than serving process during normal circumstances. What if the person you need to serve is currently confined in the hospital? Can you serve them with court documents, or is it disrespectful to do so?
Any trusted New York process server would say that it is not inherently against the law to serve documents to an individual in the hospital. State regulations, however, differ on the method you used to serve process.
Stage Legislations Vary
States have different restrictions on hospital visits from process servers. It’s important to review state laws regarding this type of service before dropping by. In Michigan, for example, the service must be done first by an individual in charge of the medical institution that currently houses the patient or a person designated by the individual in charge.
Your state laws might not have specific rules regarding process serving at a hospital, but it still pays to know the hospital’s regulations. Learning the do’s and don’ts keeps you from violating state statutes. Also, carry out the service the way you would handle it in other businesses.
What About Incapacitated, Disabled, or Incompetent Patients?
If the individuals who will receive service are incapacitated or disabled, whether they’re permanent or temporary residents of the hospital or outpatients, they can still accept the service of process. However, you might also have to serve the patient’s conservator, guardian, or attorney.
If the patient is physically unable to accept the service process, their guardian can accept on their behalf. If you are unsure which person to serve, read up on state laws specific to your state.
How Can You Access Patients?
You can visit a patient who needs to serve process to effectuate your service. The patient’s current condition will determine if you can drop by or if the hospital will not allow visitors. The hospital has the right to prioritize the patient’s health over your service.
Even process servers do not have special access to restricted areas in the hospital. Do not attempt to breach restricted areas since doing so could pose a health and safety risk to patients. You might also be in trouble for trespassing.
Can You Serve Hospital Workers and Administration Staff?
Yes. If you need to serve a hospital worker or a medical staff at their place of work, serve the process on a registered agent. Find out this information with the Secretary of State. Some states may also have this information online, while other states might not be as technically advanced.
If you need to serve process to a nurse or doctor who is working in an office setting, give it to them in the office, not in the hospital.
Bottom Line: It’s a Case to Case Basis
While serving process is important, respecting patient privacy rights is also a priority in the hospital setting. Before you serve process to a patient, it’s essential to be informed appropriately of the regulations in place.
Serve Index LLC can help you serve process properly — no matter what the situation is. Get in touch with our reputable process servers in New York today.