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Everything You Never Knew about Service of Process

process server 3You’ve heard the phrase, “You’ve been served!” but do you know all of the legal technicalities behind that phrase? It’s called service of process, and it’s a critical component to the beginning of any civil lawsuit. You never know when service of process will impact your life, so it’s important to understand the basics.

What Is Service of Process?

Service of process is the first and foremost requirement to commence a lawsuit because it is the process of informing the other parties of their involvement via the formal delivery of papers like complaints and motions. Service of process also legally establishes which court has jurisdiction over the case. For instance, if Peter was injured in a car accident because another driver on the road named Jenna crossed into his lane while she was texting on her phone, Peter could sue Jenna for negligence. He would begin this process by filing to have Jenna served a summons and complaint of the lawsuit.

Who Completes Service of Process?

While technically anyone who is over 18 and not involved in the lawsuit can serve the papers, it is best to only trust experts to complete service of process. Years ago, the local sheriff was solely responsible for serving this court documents, but since then professional process servers have come into business who deliver papers for a certain fee. These process servers tend to offer faster, more efficient, and more reliable service of process than the sheriffs.

What Information Is Usually Held in the Papers?

While not all process of service is the same, it usually begins with a summons that outlines for the defendant why he is being sued and in which court. Also included in the summons is the time period the defendant has to respond. The complaint that comes along with the summons lists the wrongdoings that the plaintiff has accused the defendant of committing, as well as the legal remedy being pursued. If the person served does not respond to the summons in the necessary time frame, the plaintiff can request a default judgement from the court.

These basic facts introduce the main concepts of service of process, though it of course can be a much more complex situation.