No injury lawsuit can proceed until service of process has been properly made on the defendant. That means defendant has been properly notified of the litigation. Service of process is the way in which courts establish personal jurisdiction, which is required in every lawsuit. In fact, it is only after a plaintiff obtains proper service on defendant that the court obtains the jurisdiction over defendant to impose an enforceable judgment of liability and damages.
So it’s a critical step. But it’s not always simple one, and it can be the source of major delays – or even dismissals – if it isn’t done right.
Rules for service of process are outlined in Rule 4 of Alabama Rules of Civil Procedure. This provision outlines the fact that the service of summons and complaint has to be made to defendant within 120 days of filing the complaint, or else the court may dismiss the action without prejudice. The only exception would be plaintiff could show good cause for the failure or if plaintiff is granted an extension. There are stipulations for who may accept the summons, who may not and where it must take place. Continue reading