The simplest legal definition of SERVE is to deliver a legal document to someone. In order to obtain a judgment in a collection lawsuit, the plaintiff must cause the defendant to be SERVED with the SUMMONS (a document requiring someone to appear or otherwise answer a lawsuit) and the COMPLAINT (a document stating what the plaintiff requests, and why).
One of the first things you should do when you receive (or otherwise become aware of) a lawsuit against you is to write down WHEN, WHERE and HOW you were served with, or otherwise found out about the lawsuit. It is good to make an immediate note while it is still fresh in your recollection.
For example: “On 5/7/2022 at 2:14 p.m., a person knocked on the door. When I opened it, he said he had a lawsuit for me, and dropped the papers on the ground, and left.”
Or: “On 2/14/2022, when I arrived home from work at 5:17 p.m., I found the lawsuit papers in the bushes near my front door.”
Or: “On 3/21/2012, I received a copy of the lawsuit papers in the mail addressed to my home.”
The reasons for making a record of when, where and how you were served are:
- So you can determine the deadline for responding to the lawsuit, and
- So you can determine if the service on you was valid.
When you have determined the deadline by which you must respond, put that date on your calendar, and also mark your calendar one week before then, so that you can get your response filed in time.
What constitutes valid service will be addressed in a later newsletter. If service was not made properly, that may or may not be of benefit to you, depending on how you decide to handle the lawsuit.
The above has been excerpted from Mr. Crowder’s book, Lawsuit SURVIVAL 101, available for purchase here.