Once a civil lawsuit is filed with the Court, the parties being sued must know they are being sued. No, an email or phone call will not do. This is why a service of process was created and it is an essential part of any civil action. There are a variety of elements that can prevent service being completed. Sometimes you must prove the service was completed properly.. If the service of process is not done by the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction, the lawsuit can be removed from the Court and dismissed. When this happens you would have to start the lawsuit over again (if possible).
A process server can be a certified individual with the credentials to serve civil actions in the jurisdiction, a sheriff, or even a private investigator. Credentials and certifications vary by state, so keep this in mind.
Think of the service of process as an announcement. The person bringing the lawsuit is informing the person(s) being sued and the process server delivers the paperwork necessary to the party or party representative being sued.
What is needed to serve legal documents:
The documents that are necessary to make a sufficient service upon a party throughout all jurisdictions are writs, complaints, subpoenas, and summons. The writ outlines the reason(s) the defendant is being called to court. The complaint is the statement of “facts” that set the legal action against the party. The subpoena tells the party that they will need to provide information related to the lawsuit (this could include documents or verbal statements). The summons is the official notice that is signed from the clerk of the court in the specific jurisdiction that lets the party know they are being sued.
A little more on subpoenas:
A subpoena can be specific to an attendance of a court hearing, to provide documentation related to the case or even attend a deposition. Usually, the subpoena will be attached to a notice of deposition and executed later in the lawsuit. If the subpoena was meant to provide documents in either situation, the subpoena would be titled “Subpoena Duces Tecum” which translated from Latin to English means “you shall bring with you”.
Starting your research for a process server:
As you can see it is imperative you choose the right process server in order to ensure that your service is in good hands. Choosing the right process server is crucial to success in moving forward in the civil lawsuit. Here are a few tips that can assist you in your search.
Finding a process server that is experienced in the jurisdiction where the civil action was filed should be a priority. You want your process server to be very familiar with how the regulations and laws of the jurisdiction function. As mentioned before, every service of process varies from state to state. How will you determine if your process server is an expert? Proof recommends researching the jurisdictional procedures for service of process. Most courts have this information on their website. You can also call the clerk of the court office to ensure you know the basics. Once you have done your research, you can assess the process server you are looking to hire.
Questions to ask a Process Server:
How many years of experience do your process servers have?
Years of experience could play a major role in the success and efficacy of your process server. Laws and regulations change from state to state and you want a process server who knows how to deliver your documents accurately.
What type of experience do they have?
Every process server may have different levels and types of experience. Some may have years of experience. However, you need to find out the type of services they are experienced in. Some types of service include initial service, company/entity service, and serving person(s). Some may know if there can be a potential issue before even attempting to serve a party.
Does your process server know how to handle avoidance of service? How about what to do if they are unable to locate the party? Do they know how to complete the service and paperwork properly and in accordance with the jurisdiction? A process server’s lack of experience can impact the length and accuracy of the service of process. Improper documentation once the service is “complete” may cause the court to invalidate the serve and delay your case.
Look for reviews and testimonials.
Check for recent reviews or testimonials. Are the company’s customers willing to promote their experience? Look for customer quotes or videos on the company website. It can be difficult to get your customers to record a testimonial. If the process server has video or written testimonials, they are likely doing good work.
Are they top rated and or recognized in the industry?
Some process servers have received recognition and have integration options with major software companies. Trusted relationships with other reputable companies can offer validation for the process server’s business.
Ask for references.
References assure you someone has already had a wonderful experience. A reference will provide you the opportunity to ask questions directly related to your own process serving needs.
Choosing a technology-enabled process server can save hours of paralegal time and even drive revenue to your firm. Here are some questions to ask regarding process serving legal technology:
Does your platform provide access to thousands of process servers nationwide?
Can I drag-and-drop my legal documents directly into your platform to set up a job?
Is there a dashboard I can use to view each job’s status?
Do you have real-time chat capabilities allowing me to communicate with the server?
Are your jobs confirmed using geo-location and photographs?
Do you have a customer support team who can help me manage my jobs or questions about your platform?
Is your pricing displayed transparently when I create a job and guaranteed not to increase after a job is submitted?
Do you have the ability to upload dozens, hundreds or thousands of jobs automatically?
The capabilities listed above are all included with the Proof platform. Proof is the only process serving legal technology to offer real-time access to thousands of on-app, professional process servers. Every job you create can be tracked in real-time. Proof’s sophisticated geo-location technology locates the closest, most cost-effective process server to your job. Proof prints your documents professionally through our relationship with Federal Express printing. Our mapping software identifies the true cost of your job and guarantees a price right at the time of job-creation. Our state-by-state team of managers proactively monitor your job and head-off problems that could otherwise delay your case.
We encourage you to sign up for a free Proof account. The next time you need service of process, give Proof a try. We are confident our platform’s ease-of-use and our team’s deep process serving experience will win you over.