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Delay May Mean You Pay

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  • 1. DELAY MAY MEAN YOU PAY full of good reasons why you should NEVER wait until the last minute to provide the papers to your A common source of legal malpractice claims process server. For example, the process server mayagainst plaintiffs attorneys is failure to properly not understand the importance of serving the docu­serve the defendant. Many of these claims could be ments that day and may leave if the Motor Vehiclesavoided with the help of an effective docket system Division line is too long. If the deadline runs, youand diligent follow through. may be faced with a legal malpractice claim. Here are a few simple tips to help you avoid Instead, give your process server adequate time tobecoming a malpractice statistic. achieve service by putting the necessary papers in his or her hands a week or two before the deadline for When youre handling a case with time limitation service expires. Communicate clearly. Prepare writ­deadlines, identify and docket the deadline for the time ten instructions. Follow-up to verify service waslimitation, the date by which service must be made, accomplished. Promptly obtain, review and file proofand frequent reminder intervals before the ultimate of service on the Motor Vehicles Division with thedeadline. Service must be made within 60 days of fil­ court and do the necessary service by mail to theing the complaint. Whenever possible, do not wait defendant at his or her last known address.until the last minute to file or serve the complaint. When filing complaints close to the statute of Provide the summons and complaint to the limitations, NEVER grant the defendant an extensionprocess server or sheriff with as much lead time as of time in which to appear UNLESS the defendantpossible before the ultimate deadline. Provide an agrees to waive challenges to the sufficiency of ser­adequate description of the defendant and informa­ vice. Otherwise, if the extension is granted and ser­tion on his or her whereabouts. Use your calendar vice is successfully challenged after the time limita­system to remind you to call the sheriff or process tion has run, the plaintiffs claim will be barred.server to verify that service has been accomplishedand by what method. If personal service has been For additional information on MVD service andeffected, obtain the proof of service, review it and what you need to do for adequate service, see MVDfile it promptly with the court. If substitute service Service: A Hazardous Road, October 1996 In Brief.was made, do the necessary follow-up by certified or Beverly Michaelisregistered mail and promptly file the proof of (substi­ Practice Management Advisortute) service and service by mail. See ORCP 7D(2)(b), Professional Liability FundORCP 7D(2)(d) and ORCP 7F. The PLF thanks Pat Rothwell for his assistance in review­ If other means of service have been unsuccessful ing this article.in an automobile accident case, you can begin thenecessary steps to locate the defendant and build acase for service through the Motor Vehicles Division.Calendar follow-up dates at 7 to 10 day intervals FILES PILEDiHICH.leading up to your 60 day deadline or statute expira­tion. Carefully document your efforts to locate the DNrHEdefendant. If you want to serve through the Motor Call for free andVehicles Division, you must be unable to serve the confidentialdefendant with summons by any method specified in office systemsORCP 7D(3 ). This means that you attempted service assistance.of summons by all of the methods specified in ORCP PROFESSIONAL7D(3 ) and you were unable to complete service. LIABILITY FUNDORCP 7D(7). It also means that you have taken steps • Carol Wilson • Dee Crockerto locate the defendant, as discussed in Mitchem v. • Beverly MichaelisRice, 142 Or App 214 adhered to as modified, 143 Or Practice Management AdvisorsApp 546 (1996). 639-6911 or The Professional Liability Fund claim files are 1-800-452-1639DECEMBER 1996 IN BRIEF Page 5

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