Can Improper Service of Process Invalidate My Case?

Avoid derailing your case with improper service of process. Work with seasoned industry professionals from Serve Index.

Our process servers are always ready to provide you with fast and reliable delivery of your documents. We ensure that we uphold the correct service of process, saving you from the possibility of getting your lawsuit dismissed even before it starts.

If you plan to file a lawsuit against someone, they must be notified of the charges filed against them within 120 days after an index number has been filed with the court. This informs the other party of the lawsuit, their offenses, and the consequences that await them should they disagree or deny the claims stated. Otherwise the case cannot formally begin.

Process service must be completed accurately and within a reasonable timeframe to reduce the risks of default judgments and non-compliance. Without the help of seasoned process servers, several things can go wrong in the delivery of your documents. This piece will further discuss the possibilities below.

Who can serve?

Anyone who is 18 years or older can serve court documents as long as they have no involvement in the case. A party connected to the lawsuit in any way can never serve legal papers. Instead, you can ask a relative, friend, coworker, or a professional third-party process server to deliver the paperwork. The process server must be able to serve the paperwork within a set timeframe and secure authorized proof of delivery.

Accepted methods of service

There are several ways to serve papers. The method will largely depend on the jurisdiction, kind of case, or type of court. The most efficient way to serve papers is through personal or in-hand delivery to the defendant. Some courts allow the legal documents to be delivered via mail, by publication, or by attaching the papers on the entrance of the defendant’s home or workplace.

parcels for delivery

Proof of Service

Suppose a document is successfully served. What’s stopping them from disposing of the document and claiming they never received it? That’s why the process server needs a proof of service.

A proof of service functions as a receipt. It confirms that the server successfully delivered documents to a party in a legal matter. It’s also called a return of service or, when notarized, an affidavit of service.

A proof of service typically contains the following information:

  • The name of the person served
  • Date, time, and location of service
  • Method of service
  • Description of the documents served
  • Name and signature of the person served

This makes it nearly impossible for the recipient to prove improper service of documents. Ensure it’s filled out correctly by hiring a professional process server.

Proof of Non-Service

In some cases, a process server is unable to deliver legal documents despite their best efforts. This could be because the person to be served moved or is hiding. In that case, the process server must sign a declaration stating that they exhausted all reasonable means to deliver the documents. This is a proof of non-service.

A proof of non-service, return of non-service, or, when notarized, an affidavit of non-service contains detailed information about the process server’s attempts to deliver the documents. This is necessary should anyone challenge whether they performed proper service of process.

What happens during improper delivery?

Process serving methods vary for each state. But no matter where you are, you want to avoid a bad or invalid service at all costs.

There are cases where papers are delivered to the wrong person or when someone else claims to be the defendant. Other times, when the process servers are unable to find the defendant, they may leave the documents with a person whom the defendant has a personal relationship with. This person can be a housemate or a trusted co-worker. On the other hand, it’s unlawful to give the papers to someone who is likely to hand over the papers correctly, such as a child or a person with intellectual disabilities.

The server may leave a set of papers on the defendant’s doorstep but only after attempting face-to-face delivery and they are required to send another copy of the documents via mail. If the defendant only got one set of papers, whether mailed or left at the door, they may claim bad service.

Anyone tasked with process serving must file an affidavit of service with the court. If the court proves that details in the affidavit of service are false, the person who swears to them can be prosecuted for perjury.

If proper service is not completed, your court case cannot proceed. Improper service will bring more delays and penalties. By delaying the case, you’re giving more time for the defendant to prepare and fight back. The judge could even dismiss the case if you fail to correct the service immediately.

Hire licensed process servers today

Process serving is a delicate process. A single misstep can compromise not just the case but also your future.

As a reputable and experienced legal support agency, Serve Index LLC is capable of serving even the most evasive defendants. Our licensed process servers have delivered in the 5 boroughs of New York City in addition to Long Island’s Nassau and Suffolk counties. We will serve the court papers, fill out the affidavit of service, file it with the court, and send you the original affidavit for your peace of mind.

Take no risks when it comes to serving your court documents. Do not let improper service of process derail your case and negate all your hard work so far.

Work with seasoned industry professionals with a proven track record of reliability, promptness, and accuracy. We also provide quality subpoena service and domestication.

Our team of process servers will be more than happy to make sure your papers get to their destination. Visit our contact page and get a quote today.

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