Service of process is one of the first steps of a lawsuit after the complaint has been drafted and filed with the correct court. This is the step that lets the opposing party know that there is a lawsuit pending against them. It’s important to ensure the other party knows, or at least has a reasonable chance of knowing, about the lawsuit so they can respond in a timely fashion.
Service includes delivering a copy of the lawsuit documents to the opposing party or parties, including the summons to appear before the court, the complaint outlining the alleged wrongs, and court-related header papers that provide contact information for the attorneys and court procedure. These documents also provide information on when a response must be filed and what happens if there is a failure to respond.
Lawsuit documents are initially filed with the clerk of court. When a lawsuit is filed is important for cases that have a statute of limitations and filing dates may be needed to prove they were filed before that deadline. The filing date also starts the clock ticking on service of process. In most cases, parties then have 120 from the filing date to serve the opposing party.
How Does Service of Process Happen?
There are several different ways to effectively serve papers and which one is used varies based on the situation. The papers must, in most cases, be physically delivered to the opposing party or the representative of their business. For in state businesses, there is an address on file with the secretary of state where a registered agent is generally available to collect the documents. Out of state businesses doing business in state similarly have someone in state available to accept service.
In some cases, it is possible to serve by registered mail with return receipt where the individual receiving the mail must sign upon receipt and a copy of that document is mailed back. Private service companies are also available to help serve individuals or businesses that are proving reluctant to accept documents in the mail. The sheriff’s department can also serve documents. Both the process server and sheriff charge a fee for service depending on distance and difficulty.
Once service is complete, proof of service must be filed with the Utah court in question. This proof of service is either a document signed by the receiving party or an affidavit signed by the process server. This starts the clock running for the defendant’s response.
There are also situations where service includes publishing in newspapers to try and notify hard-to-locate defendants. An experienced business litigation attorney can help you determine the best way to move forward. If you’re involved in civil or business litigation, the team from Dunn Law Firm is here to help. To discuss your case, reach out to the Dunn Law Firm by calling (435) 628-5405 and set up a free consultation today.