“You’ve been served”
In addition to being one of the many services offered by North American Investigators, process service is an important part of our legal system. It’s known in pop culture through the phrase “you’ve been served,” but it’s a subject that most people know little or nothing about.
Service of process is the procedure by which one party to a lawsuit notifies the other party that they’re proceeding with a legal action against them. In layman’s terms, it’s how you tell someone that they’re getting sued. This may not seem like a big deal, but both federal and state rules of civil procedure have specific requirements for process service that must be met before a lawsuit can proceed. This means that you simply can’t sue someone unless legal process service has been given.
To understand the importance of legal process service, contemplate this simple hypothetical situation: you sue someone but they never show up to court. What happens in this situation? If you can show that they’ve been properly served, the court can order a default judgment in your favor, which means automatically win your lawsuit! This sounds great, but now imagine somebody sues you. They try to send the documents to notify you, but you never get them. Maybe because you moved, or maybe because they got delivered to the wrong person. All of a sudden you could find yourself in a lot of trouble without even knowing about it. In this case, the judge will have to determine whether you’ve been properly served in order to decide the case. Strict rules for process service are important to ensure not only that people know when they’re getting sued, but also to make sure that people can’t avoid lawsuits by pretending that they didn’t know about them.
While federal rules allow for service of process by mail, many states require physical delivery of the documents to the defendant. This often means that someone literally has to hand the court papers to the defendant in person. This is where process servers come in. A process server is a person whose job it is to deliver a physical copy of a subpoena to the defendant. Hollywood depictions of process servers often show them wearing all kinds of disguises and employing subterfuge in order to get their jobs done. You might remember Seth Rogen’s character from the popular movie Pineapple Express, a process server who dressed up as a florist and hid legal documents in a bouquet of flowers in order to serve a defendant.
While these portrayals of process servers are somewhat exaggerated, it is true that a process server occasionally has to employ stealth or some kind of disguise in order to get the job done. This is because people who know they’re going to get sued will sometimes try to avoid being served by hiding, or simply not answering the door when someone they don’t know comes knocking. It seems silly that you can avoid a multi-million dollar lawsuit by just not answering the door, but it’s true, which is why having a good process server can be so important.
Knowledge of the law, the ability to track down people who don’t want to be found, and the ability to be inconspicuous or employ disguises; all the skills that process servers need are skills that private investigators have. This is why many private eyes also work as process servers. So if you need to serve someone with a subpoena, get in touch with a private investigator today!