Hello and welcome to the Lafayette Process Servers LLC podcast! I’m your host, Andrew, and on today’s episode, I would like to talk to you about whether you can ignore a process server.
Let’s consider this fictional circumstance – you are being served with legal papers by a process server. You might not particularly feel inclined to accept them because you are ill-prepared for the legal implications of what is in those papers. Now, your flight or fight instincts might be telling you to avoid the process server at all costs – no papers would mean no consequences, right? Wrong.
You should never, under any circumstances, avoid or ignore a process server’s attempts to serve you with legal papers, nor should you refuse the documents. Avoiding a process server or refusing to accept legal documents from them will not bode well for you during the course of your legal dispute. Let me explain the legalities behind why you should not do this, so you can better understand the topic.
Whenever someone represents an interest against a citizen’s life, liberty, or property, the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution dictates that all subsequent legal proceedings must follow due process. This rule is an umbrella term for all the states in the US, and state constitutions have long since recognized this privilege. As a result, there are “service of process” rules in place, which specify how legal papers must be delivered to the parties involved in a legal dispute. When confronted with legal action, some citizens may go to great lengths to avoid being served with legal documents, believing that by doing so, they would prevent the repercussions of the action. However, it is critical to recognize that delaying the service of legal papers does not make the case against you go away. It may have severe repercussions because you would be hindering the due process of legal action.
Being served with legal papers indicates that the due process and statutory requirements for providing notice of legal action to a defendant have been satisfied. Although each jurisdiction may have slightly different criteria, it is common practice for personal service to be undertaken first. The process of personal service calls for the process server to present the documents to the defendant in person. If personal service cannot be accomplished, there are other options for serving a person.
However, in certain states, personal service is required for certain types of actions, such as divorce. There are a few other exceptions to the norms, such as the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which permit and incentivize defendants to forgo in-hand service. There is always a course of action to take against defendants, no matter how hard they try to avoid being served. Therefore, avoiding process serves could be majorly detrimental to your case, and would have long-term consequences.
Most Americans are familiar with what process servers do, so it is not uncommon for people in the middle of a divorce, or on the verge of foreclosure to go through a great deal of trouble to avoid them. They may never answer the door, or they may even answer the door while claiming to be someone else. They may also flee their place of residence, and temporarily hide out at a motel or at a relative’s house. But it is important for us to recognize that these are only temporary fixes.
These actions may be effective in avoiding personal service, but they will be ineffective in preventing legal proceedings from being brought against the defendant. Avoiding the service of process is not unlawful, but it is seldom advantageous. In fact, it can result in court orders and judgments being taken without the defendant’s knowledge or presence in some circumstances, and it always leads to a lengthier and more expensive litigation process. Additional fees and expenses incurred as a result of evading service, such as numerous service charges for process server efforts, are often charged to the individual who refuses to accept legal papers from a process server or avoids a process server.
If a defendant refuses to accept the documents being served, and the process server has made multiple attempts to reach them, the party attempting to serve the documents may file an application in court for an order authorizing them to utilize an alternate or substitute form of service. The process server must abide by provincial rules and regulations, which include authorized means of service for various types of cases. To serve a claim in a small claims litigation matter, for example, the process server may be permitted to give the legal documents to someone from the same household or company, send them to the party’s workplace, or post the claim on the party’s door. In most states, any competent person over the age of 18 with a direct connection to the defendant, either personally or professionally, can accept papers on their behalf. In some cases, the process server may also post the service on the party’s door and submit pictures along with an affidavit as proof of service. s
In addition to this, the process server can also send the papers by certified mail to the defendant’s registered permanent address. This is accepted in most states, provided the process server can produce proof that they have sent the documents by mail, and that there is no problem with the address to which the papers were sent. However, the process server will have to prove that they made honest and reliable efforts to serve the party in person before they can ask the court for permission to serve legal papers by certified mail.
It is also crucial for us to explain the difference between evading service and not cooperating. Let us consider this example – the server approaches the party by knocking on their door, but they don’t respond. This would not be considered as an evasion of service. However, if the server approaches the party in a public setting, say, in their workplace, and hands them the papers, but the party refuses to accept them or acknowledge that they have been served, that would be considered as an evasion of service. In most states, it is the defendant’s duty to receive and acknowledge the receipt of legal documents as a part of the due process of justice.
Knowing the state legislation and the client’s instructions is essential for every process server, but it is more critical when dealing with someone who is attempting to evade service. Process servers must be innovative in their approach to instances when the person to be served is deliberately avoiding service attempts, but they must adhere to all civil procedure regulations. They will often collect as much information as possible about the person they are trying to serve before they even attempt to make contact. This could include, but is not limited to, a description of their physical appearance, their home address and work address, their typical routine and addresses of their family or known associates. Therefore, the process server would already know how and where to reach you even if you try to avoid them, so it is best to accept and adhere to the due process of any legal matters that you are a party in. Additionally, most process servers would maintain a thorough documentation of all attempts made to serve papers to a party, regardless of whether they were successful or not. So, it is in your best interest to not avoid process servers or try to refuse papers.
At the end of the day, it’s apparent that being a process server entails far more than merely serving papers to a defendant. Many process servers create their own ways for identifying individuals for serving parties who are avoiding service. Remember, if you are ever in need of experienced process servers, then Lafayette is your answer! Contact us at 1-866-237-2853 or send us an email inquiry at email@example.com
And that wraps up our episode for today. Thank you for listening and we’ll see you next time!
The foregoing podcast has simply been presented for informational purposes only. He or those at Lafayette Process Servers LLC are not attorneys. Laws and regulations vary among states and specific jurisdictions. If you seek further information about this topic or any other legal issues, please contact an attorney or lawyer in your local area.