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You've Been Served: How to Notify Someone of a Lawsuit

Posted on behalf of Edwards Law Firm on Nov 21, 2014 in Personal Injury

Have you ever wondered what happens after a lawsuit is filed? How does the person you are suing know that they have been sued? What if you don't know their address? What if you are suing a corporation?

If you are filing a lawsuit after an auto accident or truck accident, your attorney will take care of making sure that the parties you are suing are aware of the lawsuit. What you may not know is that there are many technical requirements about how a person or entity receives notice that a case has been filed, and failing to follow the rules may result in a dismissal of your case.

Service of Process and Why it Matters

Legally, a lawsuit cannot proceed until every party named has received a copy of the initial documents (known as the complaint). After the complaint has been filed, the plaintiffs attorney must file proof with the court that every defendant has received a copy of the complaint, known as service of process. If a party cannot be served with the complaint, then the case against that person may be dismissed.

Types of Service in Oklahoma

Making sure a person is served is not as simple as mailing a copy of the complaint to their last known address. Mail can get lost or discarded, and there must be proof that the person or entity has actually received a copy of the lawsuit. Accordingly, every state has its own rules about what constitutes appropriate service of process.

Sheriffs Department

The most common way to serve a lawsuit is to pay the Sheriffs Department to find and serve the person. For a fee, a deputy will visit a persons home and/or place of employment, and make several attempts to have the person being served sign papers acknowledging their receipt of the complaint.

Process Servers

Process servers are generally more expensive than the Sheriffs Department, but often have better luck finding people who do not want to be served. Process servers are licensed by the state, and will use multiple methods to find and serve someone who is attempting to hide from a lawsuit.

Certified Mail

Occasionally, service of process will be made by mailing the documents via certified mail, return receipt requested. The person signing for the documents must be the person actually being served, or his or her spouse or older child. This type of service is usually only made on people when both sides agree to it. It is very common for service to be made by mail when you are suing a corporation, like a trucking company after an accident.

Registered Agent

Corporations are not people, and so, a corporation cannot sign documents acknowledging that it received a complaint. Instead, a company will designate a registered agent, and record that persons name and address with the Secretary of State. The registered agents job is to accept service of process, either by mail or in person. This person will then forward the complaint to the company's attorneys.

Secretary of State 

If, for some reason, a company's registered agent cannot be found, then the office of the Secretary of State will accept service on behalf of corporations registered to do business in the state.

Publication

As a last resort, a judge may grant permission for a person to be served by publication. This means that a notice listing the lawsuit will be placed in the newspaper for the public to read. These notices are often in the back of the newspaper in very small print, in the part of the paper that hardly anyone ever reads. Since it is such an ineffective way to give notice to people, service by publication is only used when a person absolutely cannot be found.

The Edwards Law Firm: Knowledgeable Legal Help On Your Side

If you are filing a lawsuit, don't worry if the person you are suing threatens to avoid service or refuses to sign paperwork. Experienced accident attorneys like those at the Edwards Law Firm understand the rules for service of process, and will make sure that eventually, everyone who needs to be part of the lawsuit is found and served.

After an auto or truck accident, you need knowledgeable legal representation who will be there for you through every step of the litigation process. At The Edwards Law Firm, we have recovered over $100 million in compensation for our clients, and will fight to get you the justice you deserve.

Call 800.304.9246 or use our case evaluation form to have your legal claim reviewed for free today.    

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