Common Process Service Mistakes with Major Consequences

Accurate and timely process of service is a critical part of every legal proceeding, since most future legal action cannot be taken until documents are delivered to all involved parties. Hiring a process server is usually the most efficient way of ensuring document are received by their intended recipients unless the server makes one of the following mistakes. These mistakes can lead to a case dismissal or even a mistrial, so it’s important to avoid them at all costs by utilizing a reputable process service company who regularly trains their employees on best practices, rule changes and proper documentation.

Serving the Wrong Person

Yes, it seems obvious that serving the wrong person would be a major service process mistake. But it does happen. Whether it’s serving someone with the same (or similar) name than the intended defendant, delivering to an outdated address, or even attempting service for an individual who is deceased, a simple case of mistaken identity can seriously jeopardize your case.

If legal documentation is served to the wrong person, it’s grounds for the opposing counsel to contest the service entirely and force the legal team to restart the case. In some instances, you may even forfeit prior judgements that ruled in your favor. It’s why hiring an experienced process server is so crucial— a successful delivery is usually the beginning of any legal proceeding, so you need to know that all documentation is reaching the correct (and still living) recipients. 

Not Verifying Each Delivery

Second only to serving the wrong person, a failure to complete service is another major issue for inexperienced or dishonest process servers. Most of the time this occurs when a process server doesn’t actually visually see the person they’re serving to confirm it’s the correct individual.

Process servers are also required to file an Affidavit of Service to prove that the documents were delivered in a timely manner, a step that is often forgotten or ignored by novice servers. But filing an Affidavit of Service is crucial, since it prevents the opposition from contesting the service by claiming incorrect or incomplete delivery. 

However, field notes can be just as critical as the affidavit. Service can be contested sometimes as far as a year after service has been completed. If a process server has served hundreds of documents since then, they may not remember all the details. An experienced and trained process server will have taken notes to substantiate that the individual was indeed served. 

Failing to Prepare the Process Server

Even the best process server benefits can use a little guidance. For instance, it’s important to inform your server if you know a person is evasive or avoiding service – or if they’re hostile.. While some counsel avoids disclosing this information in hopes of benefitting from the “element of surprise,” it usually just results in an unsuccessful initial attempt and tipping off of the subject. 

If you know the recipient’s typical schedule or general location information, like where they park outside work or if they are planning on leaving for a trip or vacation in the near future, make sure to inform your process server! Process service is already a difficult and complex procedure, so your odds for a successful delivery improve when you provide your server with all available information. 

The knowledgeable and experienced staff at DGR Legal is committed to a successful process of service. We offer unlimited delivery attempts, an efficient and streamlined workflow, and a 98% serve success rate. Contact us today to avoid any common process service errors with serious consequences.

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