I am not a lawyer, I am a judgment broker. This is my opinion about why everyone, even debtors and “wrongdoers” should not try to avoid being served legal papers.
Getting served, either by certified mail, or in person, is usually not a sign of good news. However, getting served can be compared to getting a cavity in your tooth. Ignoring either situation will almost certainly cost you more time, hassle, and “pain” over the long term.
One reason to accept legal service is that it simplifies your life. Whatever is, is. How you react to what is, is what counts. When your tooth hurts, get it fixed. When you get served with a lawsuit complaint or an order of a court, it is best to get that handled.
When someone tries to serve a lawsuit papers to you, you have options.
1) Accept or sign for the service of the legal papers, and then later answer the lawsuit with a (simple or impressive) written answer, as instructed on the paperwork served to you.
For very little money, you can find and consult with a lawyer for half an hour, by finding your local State Bar’s web site (see our state bar reference.). Then show up in court on time, on the specified date.
You now have a certain amount of control of your situation. You might persuade a judge to reduce the amount of the judgment against you, or try and settle with the plaintiff, or prove the plaintiff wrong in court, and win and may end up owing nothing.
2) Accept or sign for the legal service, and then ignore it. Do not show up in court, so you will have no control of the situation. This will result in a default judgment against you, where the entity suing you usually gets whatever they ask for in court.
3) Evade service. Force the plaintiff to spend more money. Always look over your shoulder. Be suspicious of everyone and everything. Accept that you might ultimately fail to evade legal service. Perhaps you can be sub-served, by serving your spouse, roommate, or co-worker.
Perhaps the plaintiff will have you served at work, or at a friend’s house or a restaurant. Perhaps a private investigator will follow you around, and you will then get served.
The problem with evading legal service is you end up creating a full time job of evading legal service. Also, the plaintiff will learn a lot more about your private life than if you did not evade their service attempts.
Even if you are successful in avoiding personal service, you may be served by publishing your name in a newspaper (how old fashioned), and then get a default judgment against you. Or a frustrated process server will do “sewer service” on you, and claim you were served even when you were not. When’s it is your (someone who has a record of evading service) word against theirs, guess who the judge will most likely believe?
When someone owns a judgment against you, and is trying to serve debtor examination papers on you, it is best to accept the service, and then try and settle with or make payments to your creditor and/or doing what the court has ordered, and then show up and answer questions and/or produce documents.
If you evade the service, any extra costs incurred by the creditor trying to get you served, are added to your judgment debt. The harder you are to serve, the more you will owe. Also, evading service might result in the creditor using another method of enforcing the judgment against you.
When an entity has a judgment against the debtor and you (a third-party) are served, because you as a third-party, know about or possess or control the assets of the debtor, it is much better to accept legal service. You might even get a small witness fee.
Then discuss the situation with the debtor, to help or encourage them solve their problem, so you will never be served again on a matter related to the debtor’s judgment debt.