How Are Legal Papers Served?

After the accuser has filed a claim with the claims clerk, they must deliver a copy of their claim to the defendant (or defendants). This is referred to as a service of process and no lawsuit can be complete if this is not performed.

The reason this is done is quite obvious: a defendant in a case must know about the claims that have been stacked against them and they must notified of the place and time they must come to a location to prove their innocence.

That said, there are several ways a paper can be served on an individual defendant. So if you’re wondering “how are legal papers served” here’s an answer to your question by EGA Process Serving.

Who Can Serve Papers?

When the service of process first started, deputies, sheriffs, and agents that belonged to the court performed this crucial part of the legal process. Overtime, this became a burden for law enforcement agencies and the legislation was changed. Now, in several American states, a US citizen who:

  • Is above the age of 18
  • Isn’t a party to the case
  • Is residing in a place where the matter will be tried

However, keep in mind that process serving laws differ from state to state. Some states can require for the process server to be licensed.

How Are Legal Papers Served?

Here are the primary ways that legal papers are served.

Personal Service

Perhaps the most reliable method.

When you choose personal service, someone hands the defendant the documents. You have several options as to who gets to do this task. If you choose a person who does not know the defendant personally, the server has to be careful while serving because it is vital the right person receives the documents.

The documents can be served by:

  • A constable, marshal, or sheriff
  • A professional process server (most reliable option)
  • A disinterested adult


In several states, you can serve a paper by sending those documents to a defendant with a certified mailing option that has a return receipt. In several states, people rely on this option quite heavily, because the law states that you try serving documents by mail before you try any other method. Normally, the clerk takes care of the mailing procedure and then charges a small fee.

If you win, this fee can then be recovered. The method mail is affordable but in several states, the defendant must sign the letter of this type for the process to be effective.

First-Class Mail

Some states also allow papers to be served via first-class mail. However, laws differ when it comes to deciding what the defendant must do if the complaint isn’t answered in the given time. To know if this method is available, you first need to check with the court clerk.

Maryland Process Servers

EGA Process Serving has over a decade worth of experience in the process serving industry and we’ve been serving lawyers and agencies in Maryland, D.C, and Virginia. We are accountable to every client regardless of the kind of entity you are. To get in touch, call us today on 1-888-565-7774 or by sending us a secure message via our website.