Most personal injury claims in Los Angeles are settled through negotiations between the parties. However, there are situations in which a person must file a personal injury lawsuit to resolve their claim.
When you file a personal injury lawsuit, you must serve the complaint against the party being sued. Without proper service, your lawsuit could be dismissed by the court.
What Is a Process Server?
A process server is an individual who delivers court documents to another person. The act of delivering the papers is called the service of process.
According to California state law, a third party must serve the papers. That means you cannot serve papers in a personal injury lawsuit on the other parties.
Instead, a process server delivers the papers. A process server can be anyone other than the parties to the action who is at least 18 years old or older. Process servers may include relatives, friends, or coworkers.
- Not be a party to the lawsuit;
- Be at least 18 years old;
- Serve the documents within the time required;
- Complete a proof of service form; and,
- Return the proof of service form for filing with the court.
Most Los Angeles personal injury lawyers retain the services of a professional process server or a county sheriff or marshal to serve the papers. Using a law enforcement officer or a professional process server to serve the papers increases the chance that the papers are served correctly according to the law.
What Is a Process Server Allowed To Do To Serve Papers?
A process server can serve papers at your home or place of employment. Sometimes, the process server might approach you publicly to serve papers.
Process servers have been known to appear at places a person regularly goes to effect service. This step might be necessary when someone refuses to answer the door to accept service or actively avoids service.
However, a process server cannot break the law. Therefore, they cannot cross the line into harassment or stalking to serve papers. Unfortunately, some process servers get very close to that line when serving documents.
Avoiding service does not work because there are alternatives to serving someone in person. Other forms of service that might be acceptable in some cases include:
- Service by mail
- Substituted service by leaving the papers with another individual at the person’s known residence who is at least 18 years old and lives at the residence
- Service by publication
- Service by posting at the courthouse
- Service by certified mail
- Serve the person’s attorney of record
Some alternative service options might require court approval before proceeding with the alternative to personal service.
What Actions Are Process Services Prohibited From Doing When Serving Papers?
Process services cannot break the law when serving documents. Therefore, they cannot trespass on private property or “break and enter” premises to serve papers. They cannot go through your mail in a mailbox or break into your car.
Furthermore, process servers cannot pretend to be police officers or court personnel to serve papers. They cannot lie about who they are when serving papers.
A process server cannot use force to make someone accept the documents. In other words, they cannot grab a person’s hand or shove the papers into their shirt.
However, it is a myth that people are not served if they do not touch the papers. If a person refuses to take the documents from the process server, the server can announce they are serving the person and drop the papers at their feet or a table in front of them.
Why Would I Need To File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Sometimes, an injury claim cannot be settled without going to court. Examples of why a Los Angeles personal injury lawyer might file a lawsuit include the following:
- The statute of limitations to file a lawsuit is about to expire
- The parties dispute fault for causing the accident or personal injury
- The parties cannot agree upon a fair amount for settlement
- Multiple parties are involved in the case and cannot agree on how to divide liability
- The need to fight claims of contributory fault or failure to mitigate damages
- The case involves a Government Tort Claim
You might not go to trial even though you file a personal injury lawsuit. Many lawsuits are settled before a trial begins after the parties complete discovery.
Discovery is exchanging evidence and information each party has regarding the case. After receiving additional evidence and information, the other party might decide it is better to settle the claim with you than take a chance that a jury might award you a higher amount for damages.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm in Los Angeles, CA
If you were injured in an accident in Los Angeles, CA or you lost a loved one and you need legal assistance, please contact us to schedule a free consultation. One of our Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at M&Y Personal Injury Lawyers will get in touch with you soon.