Common Service of Process Mistakes to Avoid

Improper service — whatever the reason — can adversely affect a lawsuit that a plaintiff is attempting to pursue.

ALC IMG 0149 edited3 Process Service

Service of process is a system that is used to deliver legal documents—such as summons and complaints—to a defendant when a plaintiff wants to sue them in court. This procedure of putting a defendant on notice of an action against them, referred to as due process, ensures that a defendant has enough time to obtain legal assistance to defend the case. The job of a process server plays a critical role in the legal justice system. This is because when a case is not served properly, the lawsuit can be delayed or outright dismissed by the court. Because of its importance, there are strict guidelines that must be followed in order to properly and effectively serve a defendant. Sometimes, however, incorrect or invalid service can happen. Below is a list of the most common service of process mistakes and what to do if a plaintiff finds him or herself in this scenario.

Common Service Mistakes

Improper service—whatever the reason—can adversely affect a lawsuit that a plaintiff is attempting to pursue. Some examples of the most common pitfalls in the service of process include:

  • Serving the wrong person. The most common way that service is effectuated is by serving a defendant personally. In such a scenario, the process server finds the defendant and hand delivers the documents to them at their home or place of business. When legal documents are served upon the wrong person, the lawsuit can be contested by the defendant, dismissed by the court, or a judgment in your favor can be rendered unenforceable.
  • Not verifying delivery. To ensure that the right person is served, the identity of the defendant should be crosschecked and verified. If verification is skipped, it becomes more difficult for the courts to be certain that the legal documents were served upon the right person in a timely fashion. Failure to keep a record regarding delivery can result in complications for the case later on.
  • Putting an Incorrect Name. If the legal name of the defendant is incorrect, the process server may have wasted his or her time locating and serving the wrong individual. A court may have to determine if a reasonable person could come to the conclusion that the defendant named on the legal documents is, in fact, the individual who was served. If not, then the plaintiff must correct it.
  • Not Notarizing an Affidavit of Service. An affidavit of service is completed by the person serving the defendant and stipulates that the person served was verified, identified, and the documents were timely delivered. The document further states the place where and the manner in which the defendant was served. An affidavit of service must be notarized. Otherwise, the defendant can challenge the service as insufficient or ineffective.
  • Notifying the Defendant. While it may seem like a simple courtesy to notify someone that they are about to be served a lawsuit, doing so can cause problems. This is because the person can try to evade service by refusing to answer the door, not showing up to work, or doing other things to stay under the radar.

Let Us Get it Right

Do not try to serve a defendant on your own. As can be seen, many mistakes can happen when it comes to effectuating service; these can delay your case or even have it thrown out. Our team at Ancillary Legal knows how to properly handle the service of process—domestically and internationally— so that you can focus on pursuing your case. Contact us today.