National Association of Professional Process Servers

Why Process Servers Are Important

Hiring a process server is an important step in ensuring a legal matter is heard by the court. Process servers provide defendants with notice of a pending lawsuit asserted against him/her. Process servers are important because they help uphold due process of law. Learn more about what a process server is responsible for, when you need to hire a professional process server and why they are important.

What is Due Process?

The U.S. Constitution requires that no person is deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of the law. In accordance with due process, the process server performs an important function of protecting the defendant's rights by providing him/her with notice of a lawsuit/legal proceeding filed against him/her. Initially, a county's sheriff served legal papers on defendants. As cities populations grew, process servers were used to alleviate the demand of ensuring documents were served in a timely manner. Proper service of process officially establishes jurisdiction over the defendant. Once a party is properly served, he/she must appear in court. If the defendant is properly served, and is aware that he/she is required to come to court, but fails to do so, the plaintiff can request a default judgment against the defendant.

What Are Process Servers Responsible For?

A process server is required to deliver a variety of legal documents to a party of a lawsuit. This includes writs, subpoenas to produce documents and/or testify in court, formal complaints, and a summons to appear in court. A process server can help you track down a defendant to provide service of process. Most states require neutral third parties over 18-years-old to serve court documents, litigants often hire process servers.

Once a complaint is filed, the plaintiff is required to personally serve it on the defendant. There are limited circumstances in which substituted service of process may be allowed including service by publication.

Service of Process vs. Service of Subsequent Documents

Service of process must be distinguished from service of subsequent documents. Service of process deals with providing a party with notice that a legal proceeding or lawsuit has been filed against him/her. The service of subsequent documents, such as motion papers or discovery between parties, occurs during the proceeding. Depending on the type of request being filed, for example a subpoena of business records, a process server may be required to personally serve the documents on the defendant. Review your local court rules to learn more about party notice requirements.

Should I Hire a Process Server?

Yes. Hiring a registered process server can help ensure your legal documents are delivered to the opposing party. A registered process server knows and understands the complex laws of process-serving. Teaming up with a competent process server can help you save time and money by avoiding common service of process pitfalls. A process server can help you track down a “hard to find” individual, or a person who attempts to avoid service all together.

Once a complaint is filed with the court, the plaintiff will have a specified period of time to serve the court summons and complaint on the defendant. If the plaintiff is unable to serve the defendant within that time-frame, the plaintiff will have to refile his/her complaint and start the service of process all over again. A complaint will not proceed unless proof is provided to the court that the defendant has received proper notice. This prompts the plaintiff into quickly serving the defendant. Hiring a registered process server can help ensure the defendant receives the court summons and complaint in a timely manner.

In addition to the initial personal service requirement, subsequent legal documents filed on each party must be responded to within a specified period of time. A process server is often used to ensure subsequent legal documents are served in a timely manner.

How Much Does a Process Server Cost?

The price of a service of process differs throughout United States. The total costs will depend on how many attempts the process server is required to make to serve the defendant and the distance he/she has to travel to do so. Out-of-state process server’s costs are higher. In addition, same day or rush services are billed at a higher rate. The national average of serving legal papers ranges between $55 - $75. When hiring a process server, you should ask how much it will costs, how long it will take to serve the documents, and the number of attempts the server will make.

Process servers are not allowed to use any means necessary to achieve service. Process Servers are required to operate within the law to ensure service is rendered legally. Remember, a plaintiff is not allowed to perform service of process. The plaintiff must utilize a neutral third party who is a disinterested third party, who is over 18 years of age.

If you are interested in hiring a process server, use the largest database of vetted professionals in the industry through NAPPS.

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