Process serving in general is really not a dangerous job; but there is always a bad seed in the bunch. In light of the recent death of Steve Allen in Colorado there are some safety precautions that we should all stick to in our routine.
- Ask your client about the person you are serving. Is it a potentially dangerous situation? Are they aware of any violence in the home? Get as many details as possible.
- If the spouse is home and is in any way a counterpart to the law suit, summons, order or document that you are serving, it is STRONGLY recommended that you do not deliver the documents when the spouse and or children are present. When Allen went to serve Whitler divorce papers and the restraining order, it is reported that the wife and children were home at the time. Unfortunately they also fell victim to Whitler’s violence. This situation is an equation for disaster.
- Just be polite. It is not necessary to act like a “bad ass” even if you are serving the bad element. A process server should always have a good personality, capable of defusing even the worst situation, someone with a cheerful demeanor, with a bit of a casual attitude, but always professional. Identify yourself, and tell them you are merely the messenger. Remember to “kill” them with kindness. You are not there to judge.
- Always carry your process server I.D. if your state requires you to have one.
- Keep your cell phone handy in case you run into a hostile situation.
- If you are an attorney or paralegal reading this PLEASE forewarn your process server if you believe there is a potential of violence.
- If it is a domestic case, try serving the person at their place of employment. They are less likely to act up in front of their employer.
- Don’t put yourself in a corner or compromising position on the property. Make sure your exit route is easily accessible especially if there are dogs present that pose potential danger.
- Try to avoid serving documents in the evening or in the dark, especially if it is in a “questionable” neighborhood. The cut off time here in Florida is 9 pm.
- Stay regularly informed with your process serving laws and regulations.
Good luck and be safe!