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Can You Serve Court Papers In a Hospital?

If you need to serve process on a defendant or witness who has been hard to locate, you might think you’ve finally caught a break if you find out they are in the hospital. While no one wants someone to be injured or sick, a process recipient being admitted to a hospital can make a process server’s job much easier. But is it even legal to serve process to a patient in a hospital? The answer is…it depends.

Service of Process in a Hospital is Not Prohibited by Florida State Law

First things first…Florida state law does not prohibit serving process to a patient or employee at a hospital. For service on an employee, just follow the same protocol as for any other business, which involves contacting their supervisor and passing the process off to them for delivery to the employee. Service on a patient, however, isn’t so cut and dry. Before you attempt to serve process on a patient in a hospital, consider the following:

Patient’s Location Within the Hospital

There are some areas of the hospital that will be off-limits to you as a process server, such as the ICU, Emergency Room, Labor & Delivery, and operating rooms. Unless the process recipient is already assigned to a room on one of the floors, you probably won’t be able to access their location. Remember that a process server is not allowed to break the law to do their job, and entering any unauthorized areas of the hospital would likely be considered a crime (or at the very least highly unethical) and result in the service being deemed invalid.

Patient’s Condition

Another important consideration is the process recipient’s condition and ability to receive the process documents. If they have been in a serious accident or are experiencing a serious medical concern, they may not even be conscious to acknowledge that they have received service. If the recipient is not alert and oriented, then you should not serve them with process.

Hospital Rules

While serving a patient in a hospital is not against Florida state law, individual hospitals may have their own rules. You should respect and follow any rules in place by the hospital, even if they are stricter than the law. Contact the hospital’s business office prior to attempting service and inquire about their policies. They may just want to be notified of the service before you attempt, or they may prohibit service of process entirely at their location.

Fort Myers’ Premier Process Service Agency

For process servers who provide excellent service no matter the setting, contact the professionals at Accurate Serve® of Fort Myers. Our team knows all the laws and rules related to the serving process in Lee and surrounding counties, so you’ll never have to worry about service in your case being deemed invalid.  Call us at (239) 822-7299 or send us a work request online to get started today.