Serving Legal Papers on an Individual: Everything to Know
The United States racks up more than 40 million lawsuits every year. Frivolous or practical, people find a reason to remain in conflict with one another.
Sometimes, serving legal papers is the right route to resolving issues.
People go to court for many reasons; if you haven’t guessed it already, money is the number one motivator. But fighting broken contracts, protecting property, and recovering damages rank high on the list.
It’s unfortunate that the words of people are no longer their bond. But suing helps you protect yourself and your interests.
If you’re looking for the proper way to give someone legal notice, you need to read this to learn everything about serving legal papers.
Serving Legal Papers Start With the Right Process Server
There are certain upfront restrictions involved when you decide to serve someone legal papers. The first is age and responsibility.
You must be 18 years of age or older to serve someone.
The individual serving the notice cannot have a personal interest or stake in the case. Meaning, by law, they cannot be the petitioner or respondent. If you’re responsible for setting the case in motion, you don’t have the legal authority to serve.
However, a relative, coworker, or friend could serve in your place if the courts approve. They must meet all the required restrictions.
If this is your first time serving, you should lean towards securing professional help. Hire a process server. A process server does just that—serve legal documents to help set the process in motion.
They also provide evidence of served papers via an affidavit of service. This protects you from missing steps required by law in the serving process. Doing so could prolong it.
Knowing Who to Serve
Cases vary. In some instances, you may need to serve one individual, while in others, you’re required to serve multiple people.
Here’s how it works:
- Suing one person – Serve one person
- Suing multiple people – Serve each individual person
- Suing a shady landlord – Serve the property owner
- Suing a business – Serve a partner in the business
- Suing a large corporation – Serve an officer
- Suing your city – Serve your city’s clerk
Keep in mind: the respondent must reside in the same state you’re filing. But in some cases, there are exceptions; for example, if you’re suing your landlord but he or she lives outside of the state.
Timing and Location
Time is always a factor in legal proceedings. Make sure you know your state’s deadlines on serving papers.
A professional process server should deliver papers to your respondent within five to seven days. They don’t serve on Sundays, so keep this mind when you’re following your state’s regulations.
Time also depends on the accuracy of the location. You can’t serve papers if you don’t have a proper location for your respondent. Lock that down right away.
If you cannot secure a location for them, you must provide that information to a judge. A judge may require details of every date and address of each attempt to reach the respondent.
Serving legal papers is usually a last resort. But sometimes, it’s the best way to resolve conflict.
Before you declare yourself a petitioner, secure a reliable server. Then follow through, according to your state’s guidelines.
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