Small Claims

Can you serve documents outside of San Diego?

Yes, we cover all of California. But if you are serving a small claims lawsuit outside of the county you filed in, the court does require the defendant to have additional notice.

How much notice does the defendant need prior to the Small Claims Courtdate?

In Small Claims Court in California, the court requires that all defendants are served 15 days before the court date personally and 25 days before the date if served by substitution service. If the individual was served outside of the County in which you filed in Personal Service needs to be affected 20 says before the hearing and Substitution Service must be affected 30 days before the hearing. This does however not apply to a defendants claim.

What is the difference between personal and substitution service?

Personal Service is when documents are served directly to the individual named in the lawsuit or the agent for service for the entity in which you are suing and is named in your suit. Substitution Service is when documents are served to another party when personal delivery to a defendant or defendants is not possible.

When can substitution service be done with Small Claims Lawsuits?

There are three different situations where substitution service is usually used.

-The first is when a process server goes to a residence and the individual named in the lawsuit is not available, if there is another individual living there (this person must reside at the residence)who is older than 18, the process server can serve the documents on this individual.

-The second is when a process server is trying to serve documents at an individuals work address, if they are not available when the process server attempts service, the process server can serve “adult who seems to be in charge where the person usually works”. This constitutes substitution service at some ones work address.

– The third and not often used manner of service, is when we are attempting to serve someone where they “usually receive mail or has a private post office box (not a US Post Office box)…” This would be a private mailbox where the rent on the box is current and open. The box holder’s information is current and this is verified by the Private Mailbox Store after the process server shows his credentials. The documents are then left with an employee of the store who places them in their mail and notifies them of the service.

If I only have a PO Box at a USPS Store for the defendant, can you sub-serve the documents there?

No the civil code is very specific that documents cannot be served at a USPS PO Box, and they will not allow us to leave the documents. We do offer a tracing service where we can locate an individual’s current address based on some information you provide to us. We have a high success rate of locating individuals who may have moved or relocated even recently.

My court date is under 15 days away, can you still serve my documents?

Unfortunately if we serve the documents under the courts time requirements the service is defective. You will need to get an extension from the court in this case and then we can attempt service. Courts policies on this very, but often the first extension can be granted often without having to appear in person, but usually needs to be done 10 days before the hearing and can require paying a small fee.

What do I need to do once I receive the original proof of service in the mail?

This proof of service needs to be filed at the courthouse, WE DO NOT FILE THE PROOF OF SERVICE WITH THE COURTHOUSE, this is an additional fee you must pay to have this done except for San Diego County cases.

If I don’t want to file the documents myself can you file them with the courthouse for me?

Yes we can prepare and file documents for you across the State please contact us directly for more information and pricing.

What does your service fee include?

It includes 6 attempts at the address you provide to our company (this does not include attempting service at different addresses), these attempts are normally made during late evening, early morning, weekends and business hours. The first attempt is generally within 48-72 hours from the time we receive the documents (within normal business hours) and each additional attempt is usually spaced out between 48-72 hours. Once the service has been completed we notify you, and then we create a proof of service that is signed by our process server. This is then mailed back to you with an invoice. If the job is unsuccessful we contact you and explore additional options to complete service, but a non-service report is generated explaining the attempts made and sent back to you as a receipt and evidence to show the efforts made to serve the individual.

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