Due Diligence: Can Someone Refuse to Be Served Court Documents?

Law firms and companies providing service of process serve legal documents to concerned parties in a way that leaves no question to the validity of the service. Service of process (and due diligence) is important because it notifies the defendant that the courts will hear the impending lawsuit against them.

Due diligence refers to the rational steps taken to avoid committing an offence or illegal action. This means doing the research and making sure the documents are delivered to the right person and without committing any illegal actions. Service of process requires due diligence and process servers have to provide enough evidence about the service that it holds up in court scrutiny.

Why Would You Get Served Papers?

Papers are served to you as the defendant in a case because you need to be notified about any claims against you, and must know of the date, time, and place that you can show up to defend yourself in court. Typically, papers must be served in the state where the lawsuit is filed.

Now, if you are not expecting or perhaps do not want to be served you may be wondering if you can refuse to be served papers or if it is illegal to avoid being served.  Keep reading…

Can You Refuse to Be Served Papers?

When a process server approaches you to serve documents you can refuse to accept the papers but this will not help you avoid the lawsuit. Not acknowledging the service of process will only complicate matters further for you.

The process server will attempt to serve you the documents again if you refuse or avoid them the first time.

Is It Illegal to Avoid Being Served?

You can avoid the process server or signing any acknowledgment receipt and it is not illegal to do so, but it does result in consequences that include:

  • A lengthier and more expensive legal process
  • Bringing other people into your legal issues
  • Court issuing orders and making decisions in your absence

Typically, if process servers has positively identified you as the person to be served, the documents may be “drop served” (placed as close to you as possible); this is considered a valid service.

What Happens if a Process Server Can’t Serve You?

Process servers may not be able to reach you for a preferred ‘Personal Service’ for many reasons including:

  • Bad address
    They cannot acquire the correct address of you residence.
  • Evasion
    You are successfully avoiding them.
  • Refusal
    You refuse to accept or acknowledge being served.

Process servers usually keep track of the service, they maintain notes on how and to whom the delivery was confirmed, vehicles involved and packages on-site, as well as picture evidence and coordinates using GPS mobile apps. They collect this data of their attempts to serve you, to prove due diligence and service of process in court.

If a process server is unable to serve you for any reason, they can reach you through the following methods:

  1. Certified Mail
    They can legally mail you through certified mail that can show successful delivery even if you do not respond or sign.
  2. Serve You at Work
    They can serve you at your place of work.
  3. Substitute Service
    They can leave the papers with whoever answers the door at your residence. This is allowed in most states and is as good as personal service. Your spouse, roommate, or even an adult child can be served with papers in your case.
  4. Post on Your Door
    They may request a judge to allow them to leave a posting at your front door.
  5. Public Notice in Local Publications
    They can publish a notice in the local newspaper.

Baltimore Process Server

Good process servers will maintain transparency, honesty and due diligence when serving papers to defendants. You can avoid being served, but there are legal ways through which process servers can overcome your refusal and avoidance. Generally it is never a good idea to avoid or refuse service of process as that only creates more and avoidance problem in the long run.

For assistance in serving your legal documents, EGA Process Serving is expertly positioned and ready to assist.  From process serving to finding those who don’t want to be found, EGA is on your side.  Give us a call today to learn more about how we can help you or to receive a quote: 301-793-4336.