Only five of the fifty states have special laws that protect process servers if they encounter a violent situation when serving process. Many times, it has been reported that servers have sought out the help of local law enforcement, just to be told that they are on their own. Process servers should be aware of their rights as a server and how to protect themselves as to avoid any potentially dangerous situations.
1. Be Aware of Your Surroundings: This often goes without saying, but no matter the time of day or night, you should always be aware of your surroundings. As a process server, you might be able to get more information about the defendant being served, such as speaking with neighbors who are outside. It is also important to take note if anything may look suspicious, so that if an uncomfortable situation arises, you have details written down to aid if needing to recollect the experience.
2. Don’t Engage in Foul Language Wars: Every so often, the person you are attempting to serve will not accept the papers with ease. Expletives will be thrown your way, and making sure you respond calmly will hopefully keep the defendant from further escalating the situation. If you’re close enough and have already identified the person in front of you as the defendant complete the service and get out quickly.
3. Know Your Rights as a Process Server: There are a few golden rules of process serving that all servers will follow, but there are also a few that lay within the gray area of what can or cannot be done. There has been a lot of debate regarding a server’s ability to look into a mailbox to aid in determining if a defendant is still residing at the address. Check out the specifics on our blog about what servers can’t do: (link to blog)
4. Don’t Park Where Your Car Could be Blocked In: If you decide to park in the driveway when serving papers, park at the end, where you don’t have a chance of being blocked in by anyone coming home. It might also be safer to park on the street so that you have a quick way to exit in case the situation escalates.
5. Have Your Phone Handy: Most servers are using their phones to enter in service information these days, so having your phone charged and ready in case you need to call local law enforcement is a smart idea. If the defendant decides to “chase” you to your car, don’t worry about entering in service details until you are in a safe location.
While process serving will always be a risky business, it is important to keep your as safe as they can be and ensure they are confident in any situation. Have some more tips and tricks to keep process server safe? Let us know so we can add it to our list!
By: Sarah Kessler