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What To Do If You Are Assaulted On A Serve

  • November 13, 2012
  • by Kimberly Faber

Ask any process server about assault and they will likely tell you they’ve been serving process for years without incident. Still, there are many accounts of process servers being attacked with baseball bats, shot, punched, dragged by cars, and even killed while out on serves. Though dangerous situations do not occur on a daily basis, it’s important to know what steps to take if an assault does occur.

If you are a victim of assault, make sure you:

Document the incident

As soon as you are safe, take a few minutes to write down everything that you can remember about the incident. Take detailed notes of what happened from start to finish including any verbal exchanges, what you were assaulted with, and any injuries. If you did sustain injuries during the incident, you may consider taking photographs and visiting a hospital to create a medical record of those injuries.

Contact the police (even if you don’t want to press charges)

Regardless of whether or not you wish to press charges, it’s important to report your incident to the police. Filing a police report creates an official record of the incident that can be referenced at a later date. If at any point your state association or local lawmakers decide to push for stronger protection laws, these formal incident reports may be instrumental in the success of those proposed changes.

Share your experience through social media, your association, and colleagues

You may have taken every known safety precaution and still been assaulted, so it’s important to alert other process servers to prevent similar attacks. Share your experience through social media and contact your association to make them aware of the issue. It's important that you keep the story generic and avoid using accusatory terms and details specific to the serve. Sharing your experience through these outlets is about safety and awareness and what you will do to prevent similar incidents from occurring. Additionally, assault can be a traumatic experience, and reaching out for support from your professional community can also help you cope.

Get in touch with your association

With Illinois, California, Florida and New York leading the way, process server associations across the country are taking strides to better protect members of the profession through legislative changes and assault prevention meetings. For many states, this includes getting assault on a process server changed from a misdemeanor to a felony charge, discussing the issue at your local association meetings, and raising public awareness. Make sure you contact your local and national association about the incident.

What To Do When You're Assaulted on a Serve

Submit your story to local news stations and newspapers

Unfortunately, many assaults aren’t being reported to the public. Reach out to local news outlets, including newspapers, magazines, and T.V. stations and encourage them to cover your story or even more generalized coverage of what process servers do and why. You can usually submit your story to most news outlets through a website submission form, via email, or calling their story suggestion or news tip line.

If you do not have experience working with the media it's a good idea to contact your local or national association for guidance or even hire legal counsel to advise you as you present the story. In sharing your experience you'll need to be sensitive about the wording you use to describe the incident, what you allow to be published, and the overall tone of your experience. This is especially true if you plan to press charges, so make sure you are working with someone who has a good idea of how to approach the media and what should and should not be shared through news outlets. 

Contact industry publications

Active members of the process serving community are very receptive to sharing news that directly affects the industry and will likely have other contacts you can reach out to. Search for process serving and legal publications, blogs, and social media leaders who will be eager to share your story.

Document your assault on the PAAPRS Assault Map

The PAAPRS Assault Map displays all reported process server assaults across the country. This provides a powerful visual snapshot of where assaults are happening across the country.

Add an Assault

All states have laws against assault and battery. Check the laws in your state for more information on charges and punishments for assault and, specifically, assault on a process server.

ServeNow created the PAAPRS (Promoting Assault Awareness and Protective Regulations for Servers) campaign to support state associations as they work toward stronger assault protection and to be a place for process servers to share their experiences with assault. If you have a suggestion or would like to find out what you can do to help, contact us today.

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