Legal Process – Service

by keith on 28/04/11 at 3:43 pm

What can be a time consuming aspect of filing a lawsuit is Service of Process.  The rules for this are here.

Basically, you must arrange to have a copy of the lawsuit delivered, by hand, to the defendants.  This means that it must be physically handed to the defendant, or someone in their household over the age of 13. As you can see, this can cause some pretty long delays. A summons is issued by the Court to go along with the complaint. The summons requires the defendant to appear and respond to the lawsuit. The summons expires 30 days after it is issued.  So one “cycle” of service takes about six to eight weeks.

In our experience, it is not uncommon that more than one cycle is required before the job is done.  For example, the address on their driver’s license may not be correct or they may have moved.  Typically, attempts to serve by the Sheriff will simply be returned “Not Served” without information why service could not be completed.

Typically, our firm will attempt once with the sheriff then hire a private investigator to serve the defendant. Often our investigator will discover after an unsuccessful attempt at service that the defendant has moved.  It’s not uncommon for this aspect of the case to take six months.

Once you’ve “served” the defendant, he or she may not report that fact to their insurance company, who hires the lawyers to defend them.  These delays add up and it can often take several months between the time a lawsuit is filed and the time lawyers show up in court to begin the real work of preparing the case for trial.

38 Responses to “Legal Process – Service”

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