Can You Refuse To Be Served Papers?
A defendant or respondent in a lawsuit needs to be served with paperwork for the case to move forward. Being served means they have been informed or notified about the lawsuit.
A third party, known as the process server, serves the paperwork. The judge cannot make any rulings or judgments until the defendant has been served in the interest of due process.
However, if you are the defendant, can you refuse to be served papers?
What Happens When You Refuse To Get Served?
Technically, you can refuse to be served papers. It isn’t illegal to run away from a process server, but it isn’t advisable either. There are negative consequences when you refuse to be served the appropriate paperwork.
First, you can’t run away from a lawsuit. You need to read the lawsuit to know what it’s about. In some cases, you’re ordered to appear in court at a given time. In other cases, you’re asked to reply to the lawsuit within a specified number of days.
Second, choosing to ignore the paperwork may mean that a court will issue orders or decisions in your absence without your participation.
Lastly, refusing to be served may lead to a longer and more expensive legal battle.
It’s also worth noting that there are other ways you can be served.
Other Ways You Can Get Served
Refusing to get served is delaying the inevitable. A process server can still serve papers in other ways:
A process server can send court paperwork through certified mail which is different from regular mail because the sender (the process server in this case) will get a certificate as proof that the delivery was made.
Process servers are informed about a defendant’s whereabouts before serving papers. They usually know where the defendant lives, hangs out, and works. Getting served at your place of work can be embarrassing and it may cause issues with your employer and colleagues.
People close to the defendant may be compelled to receive the paperwork as a substitute service. In such cases, the person who receives the paper must be of legal age. They could be a parent, significant other, adult child, or roommate. However, this course of action is pursued only when attempts have been made to serve the papers directly to the person involved.
Nail and Mail
In some urgent cases, the process server can ask the judge to allow them to post the paperwork to your door. This means that they will tack (or nail) the lawsuit on your door, and send another copy via mail.
Getting Served: Stressful but Necessary
Being served may be stressful. However, it’s better to face a lawsuit right away than delay the process since it can result in more serious consequences. Process servers, especially the efficient ones, will find a way to serve you papers.
Ultimately, it’s in your best interest to get served and deal with the situation right away. After being served, you can hire a lawyer to help you deal with legal matters or to help explain the situation.
While it isn’t illegal for a person to refuse to be served, it usually doesn’t work in the defendant’s favor.
California Courts. Service of Court Papers. 2022. https://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-serving.htm
Nolo. Serving Court Papers on an Individual. 2022
Lafayette Process Servers LLC. Substitute Service of Process. Accessed 20 July 2022.
The foregoing podcast has simply been presented for informational purposes only. He or those at Lafayette Process Servers LLC, are not attorneys. Process serving laws and rules of civil procedure are different from state to state. If you seek further information about this topic, please make sure to contact an attorney in your local area
Serving all metropolitan Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Hammond ,Slidell areas
You can visit us at