What To Do When The Defendant Dodges Being Served Summons

Law Blog

Nobody likes being sued, and some defendants will take extreme measures to avoid being served summons for lawsuits. If you are having difficulty getting the required notification to the defendant because he or she is dodging service, here's what you can do to get around the issue so your court case can proceed.

Gather Evidence of Attempted Service

Defendants have the right to be served notice of any lawsuits filed against, so they can adequately prepare their defense. Thus, a court will refuse to let the case move forward and/or enter a default judgment against you if the defendant never receives the court summons. While the court prefers that you place the summons directly into the defendant's hands, it will let you use alternative means of service if the defendant appears to be dodging your attempts.

However, you must produce evidence that you make every attempt to give the required documents to the defendant in person; otherwise, the defendant can come back and say he or she wasn't properly served and get the case judgment overturned. The best way to obtain this documentation is to hire a professional process server to deliver the paperwork. He or she will detail every attempt to locate and serve the defendant and provide you with the information in a way the court deems acceptable.

If your can't afford to hire a process server and you live in a state that lets non-professionals servers do the job, be sure to have the person document each attempt either in writing or using video. Make sure the person makes attempts at all the defendant's known addresses and employers, and that attempts are made at various times of the day and week. This should be enough to convince the court you make sufficient effort to serve the defendant.

Get Permission to Do Substitute Service

Take your evidence to the courts and apply for permission to serve the defendant summons using alternative means. Which alternatives are available to you will depend on your jurisdiction. Some states will let you send the summons to the defendant via registered mail and others will let you post a public notice in the local newspaper about the lawsuit. Still others may even let you notify the defendant via social network, as long as you can provide proof the account actually belongs to the defendant. Regardless of what's available, it's important to get on record that you are having difficult serving the defendant, so the court is aware of the situation.

Be sure to document any alternative service attempts you make (e.g. take screenshots, save newspapers with the notice in them), so you can provide this to the judge when he or she asks for it during your case.

For assistance with serving a difficult defendant or help with other aspects of your case, get a personal injury lawyer's services.


20 December 2017

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