If this is your first time filing a lawsuit the experience may seem a bit overwhelming. That is why hiring a qualified process server or process serving company is a necessity. There are a number of things to look and ask for before making your final choice.
The National Association of Professional Process Servers also known as NAPPS is the largest and best known association in the industry. Almost every experienced process server will be a member of this association. Applicants must meet a list of minimum requirements and submit recommendation letters from two barred attorneys who the process server has done work for in order to be approved as a member.
You can expect to pay between $40 and $125 for service of process. Every company has different procedures and services that they include with their fees. Many companies charge “rush” fees for expedited service. Always ask what the turnaround time is, how many attempts are made, and if the affidavit will be filed after service is completed.
Make sure the company or individual process server you hire doesn’t make any false promises. There is never a guarantee that your documents will be served. The defendant or “servee” could choose to not open their door, deny their identity when confronted, or they could be out of town during the time attempts are made. That is why it is important to provide as much information on the defendant as possible. Pictures, work schedules, and a list of any known co-habitants that may be residing with the defendant are all useful pieces of information.
If a situation does arise where the defendant is avoiding service a “stakeout” may be your last resort. Stakeouts are billed hourly and can range anywhere between $50 and $75 an hour for a process server to wait outside the defendants house or place of business. This is where you will have to weigh your options. For instance, if you have a lawsuit in small claims court for a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars it may not be worth to spend the money on a chance that the process server will be able to make contact with the defendant. For instance, process servers can provide an affidavit of their attempts made which you can show to the judge presiding over your case, but in most cases the judge will only allow an extension on the service time. In some counties a judge may authorize alternate means of service, such as posting the documents on the front door of the defendants know place of abode. Outcomes will vary. It all depends on the state, county, type of court, and the judge.
Each case is different and must be handled accordingly. If you ask the proper questions and provide credible information to the company you hire your chances of success will be much better than most. Be engaged in the process, but let your process server do their job. A good server will keep you informed and at ease. Hopefully your bad experience of having to sue an individual or company can be turned into a good one. Good luck!