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When Does a Lawsuit Against You Really Start? — Understanding Service of Process

By October 14, 2022October 17th, 2022No Comments

In the United States, and most jurisdictions, a lawsuit against a particular defendant does not begin until that defendant has been “served with process.” Usually called “service of process,” “service”, “Process,” or “personal service,” is the official procedure used to notify a defendant of the lawsuit.

“The general rule in Florida is that a defendant must be personally served.” Societe Hellin, S.A. v. Valley Commer. Cap., LLC, 254 So. 3d 1018, 1020 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018). When courts speak of “personal service” it generally means that the lawsuit has to physically come to your hands. In fact, “[p]roper service of process is indispensable for the court to obtain personal jurisdiction over a defendant.” Modway, Inc. v. OJ Com., LLC, 331 So. 3d 723, 726 (Fla. 4th DCA 2021).

If proper service of process is not effected, “[a] defendant may question the trial court’s jurisdiction over [him] due to insufficient service of process via a motion to quash.” Empire Beauty Salon v. Commer. Loan Sols. IV, LLC, 159 So. 3d 136, 138 (Fla. 5th DCA 2014).

The rules regarding service of process are generally strict. Courts, “[a]bsent strict compliance with the statutes governing service of process, . . . lack[] personal jurisdiction over [a] defendant.” Anthony v. Gary J. Rotella & Assocs., P.A., 906 So. 2d 1205, 1207 (Fla. 4th DCA 2005).

If you’ve been given a legal document in your hands by a gentleman with a badge, you were likely served with process. You could have been sued or subpoenaed to provide testimony or documents. I any event, if you are in this situation it is extremely important that you call a litigation attorney to explain to you what you need to do next.

For more information about service of process contact an experienced commercial litigation attorney at Ayala at 305-570-2208.

You can also schedule a consultation online at

You can also email directly trial lawyer Eduardo A. Maura at


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