You have been injured in a North Dakota personal injury accident (such as an auto accident or serious injury accident) caused by another person’s careless behavior. However, before you can collect compensation from the at-fault party – indeed, before your personal injury lawsuit can actually begin – you need to serve the person you are alleging caused your injuries (the “at-fault party”). In this context, “serving” the at-fault party refers to delivering a copy of your complaint and allegations to the at-fault party and notifying him or her of when the matter is scheduled for hearing as well as how the at-fault party can file a reply and assert defenses to your claims.
How is an At-Fault Party Served?
Depending on the rules applicable in your specific, local jurisdiction, an at-fault party in a personal injury case may be served by:
- Delivering a copy of the relevant documents to the party personally using the local sheriff’s office or a private agent;
- If the at-fault party is a corporation or business, delivering a copy of the documents to the person or business designated by the at-fault party to receive service of process;
- Leaving the documents at the at-fault party’s usual place of residence with a person who is capable of and likely to deliver the documents to the party.
When traditional methods of service of process are unsuccessful, in some cases courts may allow service by other means such as by publishing a legal notice in one or more newspapers serving the area or areas in which the party is believed to be living. In some rare cases (mainly divorce, not personal injury cases), courts have permitted “service” to be accomplished using Facebook and other social medial platforms.
Why is Service of Process Necessary?
One might wonder why the rules regarding service of process need to be followed at all. It boils down to principles of fairness: Before a court can or will order a party to pay money to another, the court will first need and want to ensure that the party being ordered to pay has had a full and fair opportunity to present its “side of the story” to the court and have the court consider this when making its decision. By insisting that you properly complete service of process on the at-fault party, the court hearing your case can be assured that any order it enters against the at-fault party had an opportunity to be heard.
Tatum O’Brien and Tim O’Keeffe are experienced and dedicated North Dakota personal injury lawyers committed to helping injured North Dakota personal injury victims recover compensation from those responsible for their injuries as quickly as possible. Ms. O’Brien and Mr. O’Keeffe are intimately familiar with the procedural rules and processes that must be completed in order for your case to progress, including service of process. Enlist their assistance with your personal injury lawsuit today by contacting the firm online, or call 701-235-8000 or 877-235-8002.