Process Server Standards Archives - Page 3 of 3 - DGR Legal

5 Things to Look for in a New Jersey Process Server

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When choosing a New Jersey process server there are several things to keep in mind. There are currently no certification requirements to be a process server in New Jersey so how do you know who you’re hiring?

1.  Price v. return

A low price or a promise of “no serve, no pay” certainly sounds alluring, but that doesn’t provide an assurance of service quality.  Evaluate the price points but also keep in mind what you get in return.  How is their customer service?  Can I be assured that service will be effectuated in keeping with the law?  What type of insurance does your process server include?  Do they have E&O and General Liability? Do they have Workers Compensation? What are their limits of Liability?

It also helps to know that if a company offers a “No serve, No pay” clause, it may force their independent contractor to just drop service upon anyone who answers the door in order to receive payment .  The only incentive to the server in getting paid is to get the paper delivered, therefore, there is no incentive to do a good job but only to get the job done.

2. Association Memberships

Process servers have an extensive number of associations available to them, such as the New Jersey Professional Process Servers Association and the National Association of Professional Process Servers.  Membership in these associations as well as active participation are indicative of professionalism and pride in a process servers’ industry.

3. Customer Service

How many times have you tried to contact customer service only to be left with leaving a message or waiting on hold for 20 minutes?  When it comes to your process service, you should ensure your New Jersey process server provides you with the best customer service available.  Here at DGR we have a commitment to our clients and our availability 24/7 and personal contact with clients are part of that.

4. Background

More experience is a considerable boon in the process serving industry, especially given the rules which must be followed exactly to ensure that the service holds up in court. As a New Jersey Process Server with over 30 years of experience, DGR has the knowledge to ensure your service is effectuated as quickly and efficiently as possible while still adhering to the necessary rules.

5. Independent contractors v. employees

Be cautious of companies which utilize independent contractors.  This can ultimately lead to issues with your New Jersey process server, as by law independent contractors cannot be trained.  The difference is especially critical, as training ensures proper service and affidavits that will hold up in court, eliminating the risk of a case being dismissed with a need to start all over from the beginning due to improper service.




Guest Blog: Heads Up When Sub-Contracting Process Servers

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 Today, we are checking court files to see if the defendants reportedly served by one of our recent subcontractors were defaulted or if they responded or otherwise made a general appearance.  We’re also reconstructing recent serves, including those that we have service reports on but the proofs or affidavits remain unsigned.  These I am reserving for my clients and, even if they lose a few days, they’ll ultimately have a clean, unquestionable serve.


Because we hired a highly recommended hot shot server in San Diego County toward the end of last year who seemed to be an eager beaver.  He worked for several large foreclosure process agencies and they loved him.   That was then.  Before the wave of Motions to Quash hit the fan for these foreclosure firms.  We’ve not had any bounce on us (RASCAL) and we thank our lucky stars for our systems of checks and balances.  Others haven’t been so fortunate.

Things to watch out for with subs:

1) The server doesn’t answer his cell or you get clicked over to voice mail after a couple of rings.

2) He doesn’t return his calls or text messages or emails in a timely manner

3) There are numerous attempts at a single address without his verifying that it’s good, either by utilities or neighbors or other

4) When he finally contacts you, he has a list of excuses that would fill a notebook (“My eye was infected – I couldn’t drive!”, or “My son is graduating USC and I need to be with him!” or “My kid ran away and I’m looking for him!”, “My phone was dead!”, “I never got the service!”, “I’m thinking of changing careers and I’m in training!”.  I’m sure you have heard them all at one time or another, and they always sound so believable.

5) His reports are convoluted and wordy without saying anything specific, and his descriptions are generic.

6) He has numerous sub serves or “John Doe” services, more than the average server.

7) The signatures on the work orders or proofs are dramatically different from previous ones, or from the final proofs.

You, as the primary agency, are only as good as your last serve.  Your credibility is only as believable as the validity of the reports and affidavits signed by you or your people.   And for goodness’ sake….don’t allow or accept any proofs unless they bear the original signature of the actual server that signed them.  Compare it to the copy of the server’s ID or bond you have in file to make sure.

This can happen to any of us.   To tweak a W.C. Fields quote (apologies to Fields):  “I never met a con man I couldn’t trust!”.  

Michele Dawn is a South California process server with over 35 years experience.  She can be reached at or at 951-693-0165.





Why No Process Server Should Ever Work for Free

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In a time when the process service industry is receiving considerable negative media attention it is imperative that those who take the profession seriously present a united front of proper, effective, lawful service.  In order to have a legitimate argument against potential upcoming legislature restricting the rights of private process servers or requiring stricter guidelines the process service industry must prove to the public and the judicial system that they are working within the law.  Yet despite the best efforts of professional process servers and the National Association of Professional Process Servers (NAPPS) the actions of some of our very best process servers are hindering these labors.

“No service no charge”.  These few simple words have a powerful negative effect on the overall quality of work put out by process servers, especially those that work within these parameters.  In no other industry do employees willingly give up their time for free.  The lack of payment for non-serves puts into play a whole series of events and situations that could be avoided with proper compensation for work performed, regardless of service or non-service.

The first issue with this type of business philosophy is employee motivation and the reliability of a professional process server.  When the law was changed here in New Jersey in 2000 allowing private process servers to serve initial process without needing to obtain the signatures of the individuals by acknowledgement of service, this opened a whole new opportunity. Law firms supported this option as the timeline for service was considerably reduced in addition to the fact that process servers were willing to attempt service at all hours, increasing the rate of service.

When a process server is not paid for non-serves there is decreased incentive to return to an address more than once if the individual to be served is not available.  It is more likely that instead of continuing to return and attempt service, the server will mark it as a non-serve and move on to the next service and potential source of income.  By not returning and making multiple attempts at service the reputation and reliability of a process server is not as strong of an incentive to use private process servers versus the sheriff’s department.

An even worse case scenario caused as a result of not receiving payment for non-serves is sewer service, or service in which the papers are not actually delivered to the appropriate party but it is claimed that service was performed.  In an attempt to receive payment and increase revenue servers either drop papers on incorrect addresses, force themselves to improperly serve someone, serve a deceased individual or simply don’t serve the papers at all yet fill out an affidavit affirming service.

 Such service is the primary culprit behind the negative image the process service industry currently holds in the eyes of much of the public.  As process servers there is a duty to inform individuals of cases against them in order to uphold their legal rights.  Without this commitment the unfavorable impression will only continue.

Outside of the above situations, even if a process server does complete their services according to the highest standard and makes multiple attempts, this is not a good business practice in terms of company morale or numbers. Underpaying your employees can give the impression that you don’t value their work.  This practice can have an extremely adverse affect on morale, leading to lower productivity, frustration and potential loss of skilled employees.

If the individual process server is indeed getting paid regardless of service or non-services but the company does not receive payment for non-services then the burden of payment falls on the business and its owner.  Even if extra work is received the owner is paying directly out of pocket to their servers for non-completed services, which can be extremely detrimental for overall profit.

In order to project a positive image for professional process servers it is crucial that the industry not lower standards or practice procedures for the promise of increased work.  In the long run this will only harm the reputation that so many have worked to build.  By taking a stand against such practices process servers across the nation can ensure the longevity of the industry, less legislative action against private process servers and ultimately continued opportunities for work and growth.



What Serve-Now’s Infographic Means to Legal Professionals

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The rules regarding the use of process servers in New Jersey were not always how they stand today.  Prior to 2000 all private process servers were unable to serve original service of a Summons and Complaint and were required to obtain a signature from a person being served for the service to be considered valid (and you can imagine how that wasn’t always the easiest task).  Private process servers could only serve Subpoenas and certain Summons and Complaints with a special order from a judge.  After the rule change in 2000 private process servers were then able to serve Summons and Complaints exactly the same way as the sheriff.

Serve-Now just put out an interesting infographic in the past week that reviews the sheriff vs. a process server.  The results are exactly what DGR has been saying to our clients in New Jersey for quite some time.  While there may be a slight cost difference in choosing the sheriff, in every other category a process server is bound to outscore. 

The first category Serve-Now looked at was speed of service.

Process Server speed

We already knew this!  The sheriff’s office generally takes weeks or months to serve, whereas DGR’s average turn-around time within New Jersey is 3 days and nationally is 5 days.  This is a HUGE and critical difference.There is no legal professional who wouldn’t want their case to move forward quicker.   Without effectuated service many aspects of a case can be held up, making speed of service something to take into consideration.

The second category examined was customer service.


process server customer service

When you need to get someone on the phone to get status of your service or need an immediate response, you can be certain that a process server will almost always give you a better response than a sheriff.  This can be extremely important when you want to make sure that someone you subpoenaed is going to show up to your court case the next day or if that important Summons and Complaint was serviced in order to move your case to the next step.

process server knowledge

While some believed there was no difference in the knowledge of laws between the sheriff and a process server only 13% believed the sheriff was more knowledgeable while 58% believed the process server to be more so.  Lack of knowledge about laws can be extremely detrimental when serving, as service effectuated on the incorrect individual could mean dismissal of the case and the need to start all over.  To ensure that your case stays on track and the service is considered valid using a process server is your best choice.

To sum it all up Serve-Now came up with the following:

process server winner

All of the benefits you receive with a process server by far outweighs the slight difference in cost (a roughly $14 nationwide average).  Next time you try to decide whether to choose a process server or a sheriff keep in mind the service, speed and success rate you’d like to see!




The difference between employees & independent contractors in process service

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DGR recently had an article featured in the August 8th edition of the New Jersey Law Journal.  This article focuses on the difference between the use of employees and independent contractors within process serving companies.

How To Choose a Professional Process Server – Why You Should Care

When it comes time to choose a Professional Process Server, you should be asking yourself an important question: am I using a company that has employees or uses independent contractors?  According to the State of NJ Department of Labor at the Office of Management and Budget the primary criteria used in determining whether an individual receiving payment for services rendered is to be considered an employee or an independent contractor is whether the party for whom work is performed has the right to direct and control the way in which that person works, both as to final results and as to the detail of when, where, and how the work is to be done.  When utilizing a process server who uses independent contractors how can one reasonably expect to be able to dictate to them specific instructions such as the last date to serve?

Given the importance of your case at hand and the documents which you need to be served, it is important to realize the benefit of using an employee based company such as DGR – THE Source for Legal Support.  As a leader in professional process service in New Jersey and around the globe, DGR prides itself on having highly trained employees in New Jersey whereas most other companies utilize independent contractors.  All of our employees are given your specific instructions for service such as the last date to serve and when service is to be completed (such as same day, next day or routine service).  Companies who use independent contractors cannot dictate when, where or how a service is to be completed since they do not have trained employees in the field.

The difference is especially critical, as training ensures proper service and affidavits that will hold up in court, eliminating the risk of a case being dismissed with a need to start all over from the beginning due to improper service. Recent news regarding sewer service has involved independent contractors in every single case.  In over 30 years in the process service industry, DGR has yet to have a service challenged in court which has not stood up, something you should come to expect from your current process server.

Another important point surrounding the use of independent contractors is insurance and liability.  When you use a company that doesn’t have employees, there is no guarantee that their independent contractors are covered under that company’s insurance or have insurance of their own.   DGR’s own insurance policy covers its employees for up to $2 million in errors and omissions.  This is especially important in the case of potentially improper service, the possibility of which rises with the inability to dictate to servers specific instructions.

At DGR – THE Source for Legal Support, our employees receive detailed instructions for each service that comes through our door, making sure service is complete according to our clients’ specifications.  Our three day average turn around and 98% success rate for services with the correct address are a direct result of our consistent efforts and commitment to excellence. With laptops and access to our proprietary database our servers are constantly updating services, keeping you up to date at all times.  Our state of the art systems can even notify you via email upon completion of a service. With your secured login, you can utilize our website and place orders, access your files and retrieve copies of notarized affidavits of service or due diligence reports, and pay invoices or review billings on individual files. If your firm requires or needs additional assistance, DGR has the ability to share data files to eliminate the need to access our web site and have all your information right within your office software system.  Just ask about our DGR Data Exchange Program!

Next time you order service of process, please remember who will be handling your work. Selecting the appropriate process service company not only brings peace of mind knowing they are thoroughly trained and covered by insurance, but can also increase cost savings when each service is completed correctly the first time.  At DGR you can be assured you will receive all of these important benefits and more, resulting in reliable, effective process service with every case just by calling 1-800-326-0404.