The legal system depends on effective process service. It guarantees that people and other legal entities are informed of legal and judicial proceedings, and permits due process to be carried out. Even with the best of intentions, process servers can still make mistakes that end up having major consequences. These errors can be as simple as serving the wrong person all the way to incomplete or incorrect delivery altogether. In this article, we’ll examine some of the most common process service mistakes and offer advice on how to avoid them.
Serving the Wrong Person
As crazy as it sounds, serving the wrong person does happen. A case of mistaken identity can occur for a variety of reasons, such as confusing the intended defendant with someone with a similar name or delivering documents to an outdated address. This particular mistake can have serious consequences, such as the incurrence of additional court costs, the service being contested by the opposing counsel or the case being delayed or dismissed entirely.
To avoid serving the wrong person, process servers should thoroughly research and verify the identity of the defendant before attempting service. This can be done by checking official identification documents and verifying addresses before serving. Additionally, process servers should always confirm the identity of the person they are serving with a photo ID or by asking them to confirm their name and address.
Some examples of common mistakes made during the identification process include not checking the address, not confirming the name of the defendant and not confirming if a person being served is the person they are looking for.
Serving the Wrong Address
Serving papers to the wrong address is another oversight made during process service. This may happen if the process server is unfamiliar with the region or has not done sufficient research to determine the defendant’s exact address.
Process servers should properly research the correct address and confirm it with the client or attorney in order to prevent serving papers to the wrong address. Additionally, they should become familiar with the location ahead of time and pay attention to any particular instructions or rules given by the court.
Before attempting to serve the papers, process servers should always double-check the address and the location of the service.
Failing to Verify the Delivery
Another common process serving mistake is that of failing to verify the delivery. This mistake typically occurs among inexperienced or dishonest process servers, and it’s when the process server doesn’t properly cross check the identity of the recipient, or if they don’t make visual contact with them at all.
Failing to verify the delivery can have serious consequences. To avoid this mistake, it is important to file an Affidavit of Service. Filing the Affidavit of Service is important as it serves as proof that the legal papers in question have been served to the right individual at the right time and place. Not filing one of these documents can allow the opposing party to claim incorrect or incomplete delivery and contest the service up to a year after it was initially carried out.
Professional process servers ensure this crucial step is met by following strict protocols, documenting everything during the case, and making sure that they are aware of all current legal requirements and guidelines.
Disclosing Information to the Defendant
As the claimant, it may be tempting to tell someone they’re about to ‘get served’, but you should never disclose any information to the defendant regarding the serving of any papers. This could potentially lead to the defendant avoiding service, making the process more costly and time consuming than it needs to be.
Providing Process Servers With Insufficient Information
Even the most experienced process servers need some level of direction. It’s important that claimants give process servers all the information they require up front in order to carry out their duties correctly and efficiently.
This includes disclosing information such as a new name or address of the defendant, as well notifying the server if the defendant will potentially become hostile or attempt to avoid being served. Failing to provide this information can lead to the process server being unable to complete the service on time, resulting in delays and additional expenses.
The bottom line? Proper process service is an essential aspect of the legal system and it’s incredibly important to avoid mistakes that can occur during this process. Serving the wrong person, serving process at the wrong address and failing to properly verify the delivery are just a few of many mistakes that can be made during process service.
These mistakes can have major consequences such as incurring additional court costs, cases being delayed or even dismissed. To ensure proper process service, it is important to research and verify the identity of the defendant, serve process at the correct address and to properly verify every delivery.
To avoid these mistakes, it’s always best to seek the services of an experienced process server who is both trained in handling these types of situations and who can guarantee the accurate and timely delivery of legal papers. At Evolution Process Service, we’ll make sure your legal documents are served efficiently and accurately. Contact us today to get started.