What does a process server do if they cannot serve a person? Although not favorable, process servers are sometimes faced with not being able to serve someone that their client has hired them to serve. This can be frustrating for the process server and the client as a process server’s primary goal is to get the job done. If a defendant ends up not served, it can negatively impact the court proceedings. Unfortunately, non-serves can occur for a variety of reasons, and it’s important for new process servers to know how to prevent them when possible, understand how and why they can happen, how to handle them, and how to charge for non-service.
Prevent non-serves if you can
Because no one (except maybe the individual who is avoiding service) wants attempts to result in a non-serve, it is important that the process server do their best to locate and serve the individual. Sometimes, this requires extra steps to uncover locations where the individual to be served would regularly be (work, home, sports schedules, to name a few). Due diligence efforts will also likely include checking property records, talking to neighbors, and possibly even further skip-tracing efforts.
Process Server Michael May advises that sometimes those who are getting served aren’t always honest, and he recommends that servers go the extra mile to get the job done: “Before non-serving, process servers should do their due diligence. Run tags. Check property records and speak to neighbors. We get lied to all the time.”
Sometimes process servers are lied to by the individual they are trying to serve. If a person knows they are about to be served but does not want to accept the papers, they will avoid service. Sometimes, the person will attempt to obfuscate their identity, pretend they are not home, and even directly lie when confronted.
“I always check the license plates in the driveway. [You] would be surprised how often people the homeowner ‘never heard of,’ park in their driveway,” said process server Steven Straper.
It’s up to process servers to cut through lies and get the serve done when at all possible. In some states and counties, process servers can get the job done through drop service or other alternative means of service. Drop-service most frequently occurs when an individual refuses service and the process server knows the individual in question is the individual they need to serve. The process server quite literally drops the papers at their feet. With appropriate documentation, when accepted by the client, and where statutes allow, drop service can be sufficient in getting the job done.
Process server Davy Keith, manager of Quantum Process, also suggests avoiding non-serves by establishing open lines of communication, whether it’s leaving a note when the door isn’t opened or sending a message to the individual via their social media. He says, “I believe that communication is a benefit and making a person aware that you are trying to serve them papers isn’t always a bad idea.” Ultimately, according to Keith, it comes down to persistence. Reach out to the individual any way you can and be honest. It may not work every time, but such tactics have significantly helped Keith cut back on non-serves.
Why non-serves happen
When a process server is not able to effectuate service on an individual after a specified number of attempts, this is considered a non-serve. Non-serves happen for a variety of reasons, and not for a lack of trying.
This content courtesy of Servenow.com. Click here for the full article.