Taking someone to court is always tough, but serving them papers is even harder on your own. Ask yourself these questions before you hire a process server.
Approximately 15 million people each year file lawsuits in the US. But, it’s not exactly the easiest thing in the world to get someone else into the courtroom.
Some people may flat-out reject the papers, and others may go out of their way to become difficult to find!
That’s where hiring a professional process server comes in. But, not everyone knows what questions to ask themselves to find one who can get the job done right.
Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we got you covered.
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about how to hire a process server.
So, Why Can’t I Do it Myself?
It can be potentially dangerous for both you and the recipient to serve papers for a case you’re involved in. Also the court requires a Non-Biased Third Party to deliver your legal documents.
A Non-Biased Third Party is someone who has no interest in the outcome of the court preceding, in some cases this can be a friend or a relative but more likely than not, a California Registered Process Server is who you will want to contact first. So… you can’t do it on your own.
In California, every document has its own service requirements, some are personal only, can be sub served on first attempt, others on the third attempt and some can only be served by a Registered Process Server. Also each document has their own due date or sub service and last day for personal service date. Your friend or relative won’t necessarily have the knowledge of the last hundred years of process serving laws and court cases (case law) that define exactly what service is. It can be quite overwhelming for a nonprofessional.
You can find out more information about licensing in each state here.
How Can I Check My Progress?
Once you hire someone to serve papers to the other party, you might not hear back right away. For some, this may be a cause for concern that elicits worry over whether or not the other party has even been located. Fortunately, most process serving companies offer their customers methods to check the status of their request. You’ll be able to stay updated on things like:
- When your request has been received by the service processing company
- Whether or not the other party has been contacted
- Proof of service to the other party
While things aren’t going to resolve themselves overnight, being able to check the status of your request is a great way to provide peace of mind if you’re starting to worry. A simple phone call or email to check status, may be all you need to put your mind at ease but do give them some time to work the paper, about two weeks on a Routine Service and a couple of days on a Rush Service. The server wants to be able to provide you with an overall picture of what they are seeing when they are attempting service. That can only be accomplished after several attempts.
How Long Can I Expect to Wait?
While you’ll have the opportunity to check where things are at when it comes to your process service request, there isn’t always a guaranteed time frame when your request will be fulfilled.
But, since time is often of the essence in certain court cases due to the statute of limitations or pending due dates, this can be a frustrating truth to accept.
The good news? Process server companies often provide customers with the option for expedited service delivery. This can often results in the service being attempted on the same day or within 24 hours of the request being received. If your the type of person who is going to need status right away, it may be worth it to you, to pay the little bit extra for Rush Service to put your mind at ease.
If you’re not in that much of a hurry for justice (or if your case isn’t time-sensitive), routine services are still attempted and delivered within a few days of the company receiving your service request, making them the more common option of the two.
What Happens if I Can’t Locate The Other Party?
It’s difficult to get someone else into court if you can’t find them. And, even in today’s age where the Internet offers so many tools, locating someone can still be a difficult task.
It’s also not uncommon for someone who is expecting to be served to make themselves as difficult as possible to find, meaning you might be dealing with more than just finding out someone’s recent change of address.
Something to keep in mind when choosing a process server is that there needs to be a balance between tenacity and ethics when attempting to locate the other party.
Things won’t look great for you in the courtroom if your process server is breaking laws to find out someone else’s location.
A Private Investigator or Skip Tracer, who has access to multiple databases, years of experience and the knowledge to know what can legally be done to locate your defendant may be required to complete an Investigation or Skip Trace.
So, make sure you research the company you’re considering in order to make sure that there won’t be any trouble along the way. Things like past reviews and relevant articles about the company should provide you with enough information to make a decision.
What Happens if The Other Party Rejects The Service?
It’s not unlikely that a disgruntled recipient of a legal letter that states they’re being sued will say something along the lines of… “no, I don’t agree with this.”
Regardless of whether or not the person thinks it’s justified, if the documents have been properly served, the judge will consider them served.
While regulations vary from state to state, personal service is often considered effective if the individual identifies themselves as the party in question or the server can identify the party through the information they were provided by their client; such as a description, pictures and car information. Contrary to popular belief and the world of movies and television the party does not need to touch or accept service of the papers.
As a last resort and depending on the documents, process serving companies may choose to use “substituted service.”
This involves serving someone at their “Usual Place of Abode,” (their home address), “Usual Place of Mailing” (other than a United States Post Office Box) or at their “Usual Place of Employment.” By leaving the documents with an adult co-resident, family member or leaving the documents at the party’s place of employment with a coworker or manager.
Substituted service in combination with proving to the court that it was impossible to directly serve the defendant may be an acceptable alternative in some scenarios, so not all hope is lost if the other party is evading that fateful knock on their door.
If the party refuses to answer the door or make contact with the server then you may have to take an extra step or two and request a stake-out or show the court that the defendant is avoiding service and making it impossible to serve them traditionally and if your documents allow it, request service by an alternative means through a “Special Court Order.”
Knowing How to Hire a Process Server Can Seem Difficult
But it doesn’t have to be.
With the above information about how to hire a process server in mind, you’ll be well on your way to getting those papers served as soon as possible.
For reliable process serving that’s sure to get things in motion as soon as possible, check out what we have to offer!