Are you wondering if accepting service from a process server is the right thing to do?
When a process server approaches your property, it may signify the start of legal proceedings, or it might just be a demand letter. This person plays a pivotal role in ensuring you receive due legal notification. But what are the implications of accepting or declining their service? Can you avoid them? Should you?
On one hand, acceptance guarantees transparency. Courts vouch for the integrity of process servers. These professional couriers embody the legal principle of “notice,” a cornerstone of fair play in judicial proceedings. By accepting service, you are effectively acknowledging the suit, empowering you to prepare your defence.
Honesty is another advantage. Engaging directly, instead of dodging, often signals good faith. Judges, typically appreciative of this honest approach, might view it as a willingness to cooperate.
Legal Implications of Accepting Documents from a Process Server
Timeliness is also noteworthy. By accepting service promptly, you save precious time. Legal matters are invariably time-sensitive.
Immediate acceptance safeguards against accidental default judgments. Ignorance, remember, is no excuse in law. Ignoring the server might result in court actions proceeding in your absence, leading to unfavourable default judgments.
Notwithstanding the advantages, accepting service carries its share of downsides. It can induce emotional distress. For some, receiving a summons or complaint might be a jarring experience, triggering anxiety or fear. It’s a personal intrusion that disrupts everyday life, laying bare your legal vulnerabilities.
It also signals where you live, as a way of confirmation to someone who might not have your best interests at heart (if they are suing you.)
Steps to Take When Being Served
Privacy concerns also emerge. Accepting service might mean your personal details are on record. They become a part of public documents, which may be accessible to any interested party. In an age of escalating data breaches, this loss of privacy could be disconcerting.
The information contained within these legal documents might seem overwhelming. Comprehending legalese is a challenge for laypersons (people who don’t have a lawyer.)
It could create confusion and lead to hasty, ill-advised decisions. Access to a lawyer to interpret these details is not always immediate. It can take a while to find and hire a lawyer.
There’s also the issue of strategy. The impulse to accept may backfire if it aligns poorly with your defence approach. Legal experts sometimes recommend avoiding immediate acceptance to buy time or seek an advantageous venue change.
How to Act When a Process Server Arrives
You can also search the court file to find out what was filed against you long before you accept service. This can buy you a few extra weeks to write your response.
So, the next time a process server appears at your door, weigh these pros and cons carefully. While your actions won’t determine the outcome of the case, they will set its tone and tempo, influencing the journey to resolution.
Hopefully, you can find a lawyer and settle the case without having to go to trial.
How much does a process server cost?
Now, you may wonder about their fees. The expense varies, mainly dependent on factors like location, type of service, and complexity.
Primarily, geographical location significantly influences the cost. It’s cheaper in some areas compared to others. Metropolitan areas with higher living costs usually have pricier process server fees. Rural regions might incur additional costs due to travel time and distance.
A typical pricing structure is $200, and this includes three attempts at service.
The type of service needed also alters the cost. Routine service, where the documents are served within a week or two, is the most affordable option. Rush service and same-day service, however, cost more. Such services demand immediate attention and swift action from the process server.
Your Rights and Responsibilities
Complexity plays its part too. Simpler tasks like serving papers to a cooperative individual at a residential address cost less. Conversely, serving papers to a corporation, or an individual who evades service, escalates the cost. It requires more time, effort, and sometimes innovative strategies.
Some professional servers also charge a “per attempt” fee, meaning you pay each time they try to deliver documents, even if unsuccessful.
Remember, it’s not just about handing over papers. It involves locating the recipient, following laws, documenting service attempts, and filing proof of service (an affidavit.) These elements can contribute to the cost.
It’s also common for process servers to charge for mileage. They may have a specific radius within which the base fee applies, and then additional charges for anything outside that area. It’s a factor worth considering, especially if the person being served lives or works a significant distance away.
The Role of a Process Server in Delivering Legal Documents
Insurance is another cost consideration. Some process servers carry liability insurance. It provides protection if something goes wrong during service, like accusations of improper service. That insurance isn’t free. The premium paid by the server is factored into the fees charged.
Beyond these, the process server’s experience matters. Veteran professionals with a high success rate and strong reputation often charge more. They bring expertise and know-how to the table, giving them an edge in tricky situations. Their knowledge of laws and strategies can be the difference between success and failure.
What Happens After You’ve Accepted Service from a Process Server
It’s important to balance cost with quality. Lower fees can be tempting but might involve trade-offs. Less experienced servers might offer lower rates, but their lack of experience could lead to mistakes, causing delays or even legal problems.
Spending more for a reputable, experienced server may save time, hassle, and potentially, additional legal costs down the line.
Price transparency is vital. Reputable process servers will provide a clear, itemized quote upfront, detailing their charges. This gives you a chance to understand what you’re paying for, ensuring no hidden surprises. It also allows comparison of rates and services across different providers, helping you make an informed decision.
How many times does a process server come by?
There’s no set limit to the number of times a process server will attempt to deliver legal documents. It largely depends on individual circumstances.
At times, a single visit suffices. Other occasions necessitate multiple attempts, driven by variables such as an individual’s schedule, the document urgency, or an evasive recipient.
The frequency of visits is not merely random. Servers strategize based on information about the recipient. They might time their visits to coincide with when the person is likely home, like early mornings or late evenings.
Consequences of Refusing Service
Another factor that impacts how many times a process server comes by is the jurisdiction’s rules. Some regions may stipulate a minimum or maximum number of attempts before other service methods, like service by publication or substituted service, can be considered.
The type of case involved influences the process. Some proceedings, like evictions or domestic issues, might warrant more attempts due to their sensitivity and significance.
We hope you found this article on if accepting service from a process server useful.
Author: Alistair Vigier is the CEO of ClearwayLaw