How Many Times Can a Process Server Attempt Service?
It can be quite strange working as a process server sometimes. We have a job where we must meet with people who really do not want to speak with us, and may even actively try to avoid us altogether. That’s why that when we have difficulty finding a person, or we are sure that we have found the right home or business, and we still cannot effectuate service, we feel that the intended recipient of our paperwork is hiding out. However, truthfully, we may just not be in tune with his or her schedule. Or, we may have uncovered erroneous information about his or her whereabouts.
Since all people, now more than ever, have their routines and ways of doing things, you really cannot plan to serve a person based on the assumption that they work between the hours of nine and five. Not everybody does, of course. There are shift workers, food service and retail employees, disability recipients, and retirees, all that may or may not be home at what are considered by the majority of society to be “normal” hours. In Louisiana, especially in the New Orleans area, this is common because many folks work in the restaurant and tourism industries.
Once we as process servers are able to rule out the possibility that a person is simply “ghosting” us, we can take the opportunity to study our defendant or witness and determine the times that he or she is likely home. Also, if he or she is not home, we will figure out where the intended recipient is most likely to be, whether that is work, a hangout, or a family member’s place. Remember, we can serve a defendant in person anywhere.
This, of course, means that it may take several tries to successfully serve a person. You can endlessly miss him or her, or you just may not know where to find the defendant if he or she is not at home or on the job. You may be wondering, if we continuously attempt service and fail each time, is there a limit to how many times we may try?
Technically, there really are no restrictions to number of service attempts that a process server enacts in his or her pursuit of a defendant or witness in Louisiana. That said, like all courts, everywhere, Louisiana courts issue subpoenas, summonses, complaints, and other legal paperwork with an attached document titled “Return of Service.” This document contains deadline by which the intended person is to be served. This means that, at least here, in our state, service may be attempted any number of times prior to the expiration of the deadline.
However, that all said, other jurisdictions may have completely different laws and procedures when it comes to the number of service attempts made. Other states, and even different counties within the same state, may provide specific legal guidelines that dictate just how many attempts are considered to be within the law without being excessive. It has been said that judges in some jurisdictions want to see a minimum of five separate attempts!
Putting a limit on attempts, however, is really more for the plaintiff or their attorney’s benefit, or for the benefit of the process server. After all, it is a waste of time, money, and resources to try to locate someone that cannot found. This is especially true since there are other ways to serve difficult-to-find people. These include newspaper publication, mail (only in some states, not Louisiana), or even social media, which is new and catching on.
How Many Attempts Are Considered Average?
While the amount of attempts that are made are solely up to the discretion of the process server in Louisiana, most that are worth their salt will at least attempt service a minimum of three to four times, of course, time permitting. We try to make our attempts at different times of day, spreading over varying days of the week, in order to maximize our chances of reaching the intended recipient. Making a few attempts beyond what is considered average is always best. It can be the difference between making a successful serve or not.
When Is It Fine to Make Only One Service Attempt?
Well, that would be when we are able to catch the defendant or witness on the first try! That is ideal, but other than that, there are different circumstances that may arise. For example, if we have been out to a house where mail is collecting, the lights are off, and it appears abandoned and vacant, or we are told that the defendant or witness does reside at a location, then we will stop making further attempts.
Give Us a Call
If it is difficult to locate a particular person that needs to be served, you have come to the right place. At Baton Rouge Process Servers, Scott Frank and his team have the tools and training the locate most avoidant defendants and witnesses and will attempt service as many times as it takes. Give us a call or stop in and we can discuss your process serving needs.
Donna Lee Hellmann is a New Orleans-area copywriter. The foregoing article has simply been presented for informational purposes only. She, and those at Baton Rouge Process Servers, are not attorneys. If you seek further information about this topic, contact an attorney in your local area.