Step 3: Serving the Lawsuit
The Writ of Summons provided by the court after processing the Complaint notifies the defendant of the need to respond to the Complaint within a specified period of time.
To satisfy a defendant’s rights to due process under the United States Constitution, both the Writ of Summons and the Complaint must be served upon the defendant in a manner that is designed to inform the defendant of the lawsuit and of his opportunity to be heard in the matter.
While state and federal service requirements differ, the most common form of service is completed by having a private process server or sheriff personally hand these papers to the defendant. Other rules may permit service by certified mail or by delivery to an adult living or working with the defendant. If the plaintiff fails to serve the lawsuit properly, in a timely manner and with the correct paperwork, the lawsuit may be dismissed.