Serving a lawsuit to an individual is a critical step in the legal process. In Texas, as in other jurisdictions, there are specific rules regarding how lawsuits must be served. However, there are situations where traditional methods of personal service may not be feasible or effective. Alternative methods of service come into play in such cases. Rule 106 of the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure is the authority for these methods of service.
Certified Mail with Return Receipt
In certain circumstances, Texas law allows for service by certified mail with return receipt requested. This method involves sending a copy of the lawsuit documents via certified mail to the defendant's last known address. The recipient must sign the return receipt, confirming they received the mailing. This method is commonly used when the defendant's whereabouts are known, but personal service is not possible or practical. This is a convenient method for alternative service since you do not need to ask the court’s permission to serve someone by certified mail. Please note that you should have the return receipt filed with the court as proof of service.
Service by Registered or Express Mail
Similar to certified mail, service by registered or express mail can be an alternative option. The sender can utilize registered or express mail services to send the lawsuit documents to the defendant's last known address. The mail carrier will require the recipient's signature upon delivery, providing proof of service.
If the defendant's location is unknown or attempts at personal service have been unsuccessful, Texas law permits "posting and mailing" as an alternative method. This involves obtaining permission from the court to post the lawsuit documents in a conspicuous place at the defendant's last known address. The motion must be sworn in front of a notary. Additionally, a copy of the documents must be sent by certified mail to the same address. This method requires a diligent effort to locate and notify the defendant, even when personal contact is not possible.
Service by Publication
Service by publication is typically used when the defendant's identity or whereabouts are completely unknown. This method involves publishing a notice of the lawsuit in a newspaper or website approved by the court. The publication must meet specific requirements and typically needs to run for a designated period. Service by publication is considered a last resort when all other reasonable attempts at service have been exhausted.
Service Through Social Media or Email
In recent years, courts have started recognizing the use of social media and email as alternative methods of service. However, the acceptance of these methods depends on court discretion and specific circumstances. Courts may require evidence showing that the chosen social media platform or email address belongs to the respondent and that the respondent is likely to receive the lawsuit documents through these means.
Since service of process is such a critical step in a lawsuit, it is important to consult with an experienced attorney to understand the specific rules, requirements, and limitations associated with each alternative method, ensuring that the service is conducted in compliance with the law and protects the rights of all parties involved.
If you have questions or would like more information, contact Hunt Law Firm today.