There are special rules on how you can give lawsuit paperwork to someone, and who can receive the lawsuit paperwork. Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 4, section (6) governs regular service of lawsuit paperwork upon individuals. Today’s discussion is service of lawsuit paperwork on adults, as opposed to corporations or minors. When you are serving a lawsuit on someone, you, the injured party, are known as the ‘plaintiff; and the at-fault party, the one being sued, is called the ‘defendant’.
Service of lawsuit paperwork is legally called “service of process”. Rule 4 of the Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure requires that to legally serve a lawsuit on a person, it must be done: “. . . to the defendant personally, or by leaving copies thereof at the defendant’s dwelling house or usual place of abode with some person of suitable age and discretion then residing therein . . .”
This rule requires that a defendant be “personally” served. Although there are special rules for a defendant when you do not know where they live or if they live in a guard gated community, today’s discussion applies when you know where they live and it is not in a gated community. Based upon the rule, you cannot mail a copy of the lawsuit to the defendant. This also means that your process server cannot simply slide the lawsuit documents under the door. Questions then frequently come up as to who at the house can accept the lawsuit paperwork if the defendant is not home.
What happens when the defendant’s 12 year old child takes the lawsuit paperwork? The statute says the person who receives the lawsuit paperwork, must be “of suitable age and discretion”. It is unlikely that a minor child would be considered ‘of suitable age and discretion’. In this example service is invalid.
Also, what if you are out of town and your neighbor is feeding your cats for you when the process server comes to the door and gives them the lawsuit paperwork? The rule requires someone “residing therein” to accept service of the paperwork. Since your neighbor does not “reside” at your house, service of the lawsuit would be inadequate, even if they did leave the paperwork at your house for you to find upon your return.
What if your roommate is home and is served with the lawsuit paperwork? In this example, service would be in full compliance with the rule. Your roommate is an adult, therefore “of suitable age and discretion”. Also, your roommate does “reside” in the same home as you do. Based upon this scenario, service of the lawsuit paperwork would be valid.
Proper service of the lawsuit documents is integral to your lawsuit. Without serving the lawsuit paperwork on the defendant, properly, you cannot move forward with your case for personal injuries.
Next time, we will discuss trial dates in Las Vegas, Nevada Court cases.