A process server’s role is crucial for any legal action to proceed. Whether you’re filing a lawsuit, initiating a divorce proceeding, requesting for a change in the custody arrangements for your children, suing a company or government office — the courts can only proceed with the legal process if the person or entity you sue has been properly served.
The law states that defendants must know if and when a legal action is being filed against them so that they may answer the allegations. Process servers accomplish this requirement when they serve the defendants a copy of the summons or complaint.
The service of process is simple enough in theory: after a plaintiff has filed a claim or case in the local county, they should see to it that the defendant is served within 120 days. Otherwise, the court could dismiss the action.
Dismissal without prejudice — this is the unfortunate consequence of failing to follow the rules of process service. Although plaintiffs are not the ones to serve the defendant (the law explicitly forbids this), it’s still necessary to know the due process so that you can distinguish between process servers who know what they’re doing and people who only claim to be knowledgeable about the service of process but cannot follow through.
Learn what process servers can and cannot do below.
Good Service: What Process Servers Can Do
- For civil cases, and after at least two tries of finding the defendant at different times of the day or on different days, the process server can tape the documents to the defendant’s home or place of work. This is called conspicuous service, one of the three legal ways of serving papers in New York.
- Process servers can leave the documents to any individual of reasonable age and discretion who can be trusted to pass the documents on to the defendant or respondent. Teenagers under 18 years old are allowed. This is substituted service, another accepted method of serving papers in New York.
- Anyone 18 years or older who is not party to the case can serve papers. Friends of the plaintiff who are of legal age may also serve papers to the defendant or respondent.
- Process servers can wait outside the defendant’s home, place of work, or any other venue.
Bad Service: What Process Servers Must Not Do
- Serve papers on Sundays or on the defendant’s days of religious observance.
- Serve papers earlier than 6:00 AM and later than 10:00 PM.
- Breaking into and entering the defendant’s home or property without their consent.
- Forcing the defendant or respondent to open the door (even if the recipient is present but is feigning absence, the process server can only return at another time or date, or use an alternative method of service).
- Forget to mail a copy of the legal papers after conspicuous or substituted delivery.
- Forget to file an Affidavit of Service after personal, conspicuous, or substituted delivery (process servers must file the Affidavit within 20 days after service).
Ensure a Successful Service with Serve Index LLC
A case can be dismissed before it can even begin if any of the mistakes above occurs during the process of service. This is why it’s crucial that you entrust this job to someone who has experience in finding people, including those who may be evasive on purpose. Most importantly, you need someone who knows and observes the rules of process service.
Serve Index LLC’s process servers are the best people for this. Each one is a licensed professional and knows the streets of New York very well. When you hire us, you can rest assured that your suit will not be delayed nor derailed because of erroneous service.