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How To Locate A Missing Person For A Civil Lawsuit

Editor's note: This article was written by Kieffer Ramirez Director of IT and Investigations at Tio Square Inc.. The opinions expressed here belong to Kieffer Ramirez.

A civil lawsuit is usually initiated when an individual files a personal complaint against a liable party in the local civil courthouse. Typically, civil lawsuits are conflicts that involve monetary requests for compensation or reimbursements from one person against either a company or an individual. Settlement negotiations resolve some cases while others undergo a court process. A grand jury or judge decides the case’s outcome.

Civil court cases take longer than most people expect, as there are procedural rules and lawsuit processes that cannot be sped up. It can take many months or even years to reach a conclusion. Each procedure takes time and moreover, court calendars fill up quickly.

Due to the length of civil cases, some defendants go into hiding in order to avoid being served with subpoenas. A process server is hired to deliver the documents to the defendant. If the defendant is not home, the server hands the document over to a resident of the premises, provided the person is over the age of 18 and depending on the laws of that particular state. Every state has its own unique laws on the correct procedure of delivering an absent subpoena so be sure to check your local state laws.

If service at the individual’s home is not suitable, some states allow service at that individual’s place of business. That tactic does not always result in service, so the document is considered improperly received by the defendant. In this scenario, lawsuits can stall indefinitely.

Process servers often possess the knowledge and experience to locate subjects quickly and effectively by utilizing several online and offline tools."

Luckily, there are a few options available to process servers who are unable to locate their subjects. Process servers often possess the knowledge and experience to locate subjects quickly and effectively by utilizing several online and offline tools.

Skip tracing for process servers is the art of finding a hard-to-find individual with the intent to serve them with legal papers. Regardless if a lot of time has elapsed since they have last been spotted, or they simply do not wish anyone to know their location, the results of skip tracing are often the same.

Skip tracing combines the best of the online and offline world as they include sources of information like the subject’s close associates, neighbors, affiliated groups, and other people who can lead directly to him or her. Calling the most closely related associates found through a database search can reveal a wealth of information, as family members can provide the current location and contact information of the subject. Neighbors can also advise the skip tracer of when the subject would most likely be found at their residence, whether they are on vacation, and sometimes provide a recent address or telephone number. While you’re talking to these informants, keep in mind that a little charm goes a long way for a skip tracer.

Using informational databases, credit headers, and even social media accounts, skip tracers can create a well-rounded perspective of an individual that ultimately leads to their latest location. Informational databases often provide the latest information on the subject, including their last known address and other possible affiliated locations. Credit headers reveal information on the subject’s last credit applications while a social media scan can provide photos, anticipated events they are attending, and “story-lines” which skip tracers parse and connect in order to help locate them.

Some process servers also conduct background checks that include a criminal history search in order to find out whether the defendant is currently incarcerated or has an upcoming court hearing date scheduled. Background checks also reveal additional civil records for the subject, such as bankruptcies and current assets. Current assets are valuable during a skip trace as it may list properties where the subject may reside. Skip tracers often utilize paid services, such as Lexis Nexis and TLO in order to obtain the most updated information on their subjects. These databases can be costly, but well worth the price.

Another popular source that process servers use to locate their subjects is vehicle search, which involves making inquiries with their local motor vehicle department for any vehicle registration or license plate information. If the vehicle is registered to a PO Box, the process server can file an inquiry with the USPS which will reveal the person’s current listed physical address.

Although it can be very difficult to locate a missing person who constantly changes addresses or jobs, nothing is out of reach to an experienced and professional process server."

These are just a few examples of the many tools that process servers have at their disposal when it comes to locating a missing subject. Although it can be very difficult to locate a missing person who constantly changes addresses or jobs, nothing is out of reach to an experienced and professional process server. Process servers think outside the box and employ different techniques to locate their subjects.

About the Author


Kieffer Ramirez is a Licensed Private Investigator with over 18 years of investigative experience and is the Director of IT and Investigations at TIO Square Inc., New York’s premiere Private Investigation Agency. He holds several IT Industry Certifications relating to Networking and Web Development from Cisco and Comptia, and is currently completing a Degree in Network and Cybersecurity from Western Governors University.

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