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What Happens With a Lawsuit If The Defendant Wasn’t Served Court Papers?

If a process server is trying to find a defendant and is having difficulty, they have a few options at their disposal. However, if the process is not served within a certain amount of time, the case will be dismissed and must be refiled. So it’s important for the process server to act fast to keep the case intact and moving forward.

Process Must Be Served Within 120 Days

Once a civil case is filed, the plaintiff has 120 days to serve the process on the defendant(s). If the process is not served within that time frame, a motion to dismiss may be filed. However, if the plaintiff can provide a good reason as to why they were not able to serve the defendant, the deadline can be extended by a judge.

Alternative Service Options

If a defendant cannot be located, the process server has a few options to get them served under Florida state law:

Service by Substitution

After several attempts have been made to locate the defendant, the process server can request to instead serve:

  • Another person residing in the same home who is 15 or older (the person must be informed of the contents of the paperwork)
  • The defendant’s spouse (assuming that the process is not related to any case between the two)
  • Another person approved by a judge

In all these scenarios, the process must also be mailed to the last known address for the defendant, along with being given to the substitute.

Service by Publication

For certain cases and defendants, the process server may be able to request service by publication. If approved, a notice of the process will be published in a local newspaper for a specified amount of time, after which the defendant is considered served and the case can proceed.

Process Servers Who Always Meet the Deadline

Don’t ever worry about missing a process delivery deadline with Accurate Serve of Plantation, Key West, West Palm Beach, and Miami. Our servers start working on your case immediately, serving all the required paperwork long before the 120-day deadline. Give us a call at (954) 299-1552 or send us a work request online to get started now.