As a plaintiff in a lawsuit, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the defendant receives the court documents related to your case. This process, known as service of process, is essential to ensuring that both parties have a fair chance to present their side of the case. However, what happens when you can’t serve the defendant in person? That’s where substitute service comes in.
Substitute service is used when the defendant cannot be served with the court documents in person. The court allows this option because it is assumed that the defendant may be trying to avoid being served. The idea is that, by using substitute service, you can still ensure that the defendant is made aware of the lawsuit against them. Here are some of the different types of substitute service a process server can do:
- Substituted service at home. This type of substitute service occurs when the defendant cannot be served in person, but they still live at the address on file. In this case, the process server will leave the court documents with someone over the age of 18 who resides at the same address. The process server will also need to mail a copy of the documents to the defendant at the same address.
- Substituted service at work If the defendant can’t be served at home, the next option is to attempt service at their place of work. The process server will deliver the documents to someone who appears to be in charge or someone who can identify the defendant. The server must also mail a copy of the documents to the defendant’s home address.
- Substituted service by mail If both home and work attempts fail, substituted service by mail is another option. This involves the process server mailing the documents to the defendant’s last known address. The server must also complete a proof of service document, detailing the date and manner of mailing.
- Service by publication is used as a last resort when all other attempts at service have failed. This process involves publishing a notice of the lawsuit in a newspaper approved by the court. The notice must be published for a certain amount of time, usually once a week for three consecutive weeks. This type of service is only allowed when the defendant’s whereabouts are unknown or cannot be determined.
It’s important to note that substitute service is not a guaranteed method of serving the defendant, and the court may require additional attempts to be made before accepting it. The process server must also follow strict guidelines to ensure that the defendant is made aware of the lawsuit. As a plaintiff, it’s crucial to work with a reputable process server who knows the ins and outs of substitute service to ensure that your case proceeds smoothly.