You might think that you have a perfect legal argument and you might be eager to get your case over with, but before litigation can begin, you must serve the defendant. Unfortunately, many defendants go into hiding as a way to avoid being served. However, an experienced process server can often track down a defendant so they can be held accountable.
Process Serving Requirements
All defendants in a lawsuit must receive a copy of the lawsuit. This must include the time, date, and place of the hearing. While the process of serving an individual can vary from state to state, the server will typically need to be a neutral third party.
Serving papers to the defendant is essential because your case cannot move forward otherwise. The process service will try to personally serve the papers if possible. They will try to determine a time and place when the individual being served will likely be available. The most obvious location to visit would be the individual's home or workplace.
When the Defendant Cannot Be Found
If there are no leads regarding the address of the defendant, the process service might look for a forwarding address at the postal service. If they can identify friends or family members, they might contact them as well and hope for a lead. The defendant's social media might also provide clues as to their whereabouts.
When the process server is able to locate the defendant, they will ask them to sign the papers. However, even if the defendant refuses to sign the papers, they will still be considered served and the documents will be left with them.
Methods That Normally Don't Work
Mailing the papers to an individual is usually not considered acceptable because there is no guarantee that the individual will ultimately receive the papers. As for posting the papers at the residence, this is only allowed for evictions.
Using a Publication
If you have tried as hard as you can, you may still be able to serve the defendant through printing the information in a publication. To be able to serve through a publication, you must show that you have made a good faith effort to locate the defendant. The process server will likely need to write up a statement so they can describe the efforts they made to find the defendant. However, as long as you take the right steps, it won't be easy for the defendant to avoid being served.
If you need help serving a defendant, talk to a local process service.