If I’ve been sued and I get the summons, but they leave it on my door, porch, or in the yard, am I considered served?

“If I’ve been sued and I get the summons, but they leave it on my door, porch, or in the yard, am I considered served?”

If I've been sued and I get the summons, but they leave it on my door, porch, or in the yard, am I considered served?So the question is if you have been sued but the process server (deputy, Van Slam, etc.) leaves the summons on your porch or on your door, have you actually been served?

From a technical, legal standpoint, if they simply leave it on your porch, then I don’t think that’s being served.  They can leave it with an adult who lives in your house. This could be a spouse, a child, a roommate, as long as they live in your house. The rules say nothing about throwing it in the bushes or leaving it at your door.

If you know you’ve been sued, then there’s really no benefit to waiting around saying, “Well, you technically didn’t serve me. I’m just going to wait until you serve me.”

My approach is to say, “When these debt collectors sue us, instead of backing up and waiting out of fear. Let’s go forward instead. Charge these guys and respond to the lawsuit. Let’s get a trial date and let’s win the case because the sooner we win the case, the sooner we have options against these debt collectors. “

Right now, it’s May 15 and we have, I think ten Federal Court lawsuits against Midland Funding (a prominent debt buyer) that are pending, active cases right now. I’ve got another one we’re in the process of filing. We’ve got two Federal Court lawsuits against Asset Acceptance and then we have some other cases as well. All of these are because when consumers were sued by Midland, sued by Asset Acceptance, Portfolio, whoever it may be and the consumer responded and won that case. We want to get to that trial to win the case.

There are five options when you’ve been sued by a debt collector:

  • Bankruptcy
  • Fight the lawsuit on your own
  • Settle the lawsuit on your own
  • Hire a lawyer to fight the lawsuit
  • Hire a lawyer to settle the lawsuit

Click here to view our entire video webinar on these 5 options. It’s about an hour and fifteen minutes long.

In the video, we go over these options and answer many questions which we get over and over when discussing this.

In terms of service of process, if it’s just stuck on your door, thrown in the bushes, thrown in the front yard, the front porch, which we see frequently, this is not typically considered good service.

I would advise that you be very careful about saying, “You didn’t serve me. I’m not going to even pay attention to this.”

The court might mistakenly believe that you’ve been served and then those days start counting.

When you run out of days, 14 for Small Claims or District Court, 30 for Circuit Court, then the debt collector says, “Hey Judge, we served him. He didn’t answer. Give us a default judgment.” Now a judgment is against you.

If you weren’t properly served, it is possible to undo this. We have had clients who have hired us and find out they had a judgment from 14 or 15 years ago. We’ve been able to get those set aside because if you’re not properly served, the lawsuit’s no good against you. You can do that, but it is expensive and time-consuming, and the judge may still say, “No.”

Find out your options, especially if you know you’ve been sued.


If we can help you, feel free to call us at 205-879-2447 or fill out our online contact form here.

Thanks for watching the video and reading this article.

John G. Watts


  1. sharon le Flore says:

    Answered door to server was getting ready for shower on Sunday morning. Door was barely cracked said he would leave papers at door on ground. Is that a legal serve..

    • John Watts says:


      In Alabama that’s probably ok since he was talking to you through the door. Not sure why didn’t just hand the papers through the crack in the door.

      I personally would not argue it was bad service since you knew about it and I presume received the papers.

      Give us a call at 205-879-2447 and ask for Carolyn — she’ll look up your case and set us up a call to discuss your options (assuming you live in Alabama).

      Thanks and best wishes!

      John Watts

  2. Richard says:

    If this happens it’s just left, you will get a court date in the mail and another letter or 2 from the courts and sheriff..Just hand them right back to your mailcarrier n return to sender. Just bc someone sends you something doesn’t mean you Have to open it. Received my judgement of dismissal after 90 days last month. Now they really want to settle.

    • John Watts says:


      You have to be very careful with the strategy mentioned — it is all based on the court ruling that you were never served.

      If the court gets it wrong and believes you were served, then a judgment is coming.

      Multiple strategies on the best way to handle matters — thanks for sharing your approach. With any strategy/approach, we need to be careful and thoughtful and fully understand the risks and benefits.

      Thanks again!


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