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Don’t Ignore a Court Summon: The Different Ways a Defendant Can be Served

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After you have filed a lawsuit, the next thing to do is to serve the papers to the defendant. This is a necessary step because, by law, the other party should be notified that an action was taken against them. However, what happens when the defendants refused to be served?

Service of Process

A process server is an individual whose job is to locate the defendants and hand them the notice papers. However, in most cases, the defendants would avoid being served a court summon.

The best process server in NYC would be thoroughly aware of what they are legally allowed to do to deliver the necessary documents. They may use special techniques to find a defendant who has gone into hiding. An example is “skip tracing” in which the process server will collect all available information, including credit card data and driver’s license database, to pinpoint the exact location of the individual in question.

You may hire an individual or a company to act as a process server to help you find an evasive defendant. A sheriff or a marshal may also hand the defendant relevant papers, although law officers in some states are no longer doing it.

Service Through Certified Mail

In most states, legal documents can be sent to the defendant via certified mail with a return receipt. Normally, this is done by the court clerk for a small fee (which you can collect when you win). However, the defendant must sign the paper for this method to be effective. Unless the individual being sued can be cooperative, this may not be ideal for many cases. In fact, an informal survey of court clerks revealed that only 50% of papers were accepted.

Substituted Service

If the defendant is out of reach, or actively avoiding visits from a process server, then the court may allow summons to be handed to a representative of the intended. An adult family member residing in the same house may receive a copy of the service on behalf of the defendant. The process server may also leave the legal documents with a management-level employee at the defendant’s place of employment.

In some states, court papers may be served in a method that is referred to as the “nail and mail.” After the process server has made “reasonable efforts” to reach the defendant to no avail, they may simply “nail” a copy to the front door of the individual named in the lawsuit and then mail a second copy on the same day.

Service by Notice

lawyer signing a document

If every method has been attempted but the defendant continues to evade being served, then the court may allow the complainant to place a notice via the local paper. As long as the newspaper is circulated in the area where the defendant is located, then the court may consider an ad placement as service received.

Ignoring Will Not Fix the Issue

Contrary to popular belief, ignoring a court summon by refusing to be served will not make the case go away. It may not even make the process challenging for the person suing. It will only delay the proceedings and drag out the case. Eventually, the defendant will be served through the many methods the court may allow the official legal papers to be delivered to the individual named in the lawsuit.

The defendant does not gain anything good by being uncooperative. It woul d be best to face a summon as soon as possible.

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