Speaking with law firms in Thurston, Lewis, Mason, and Pierce Counties, they all ask me the same question: “Why do I need a PI to do my service of process when I can hire a ‘process server’ at a cheaper rate?” This article will help answer that question.
To begin, what is the difference between a PI and a licensed process server? There are a few answers to this. First, a private investigator has more stringent standards to meet in order to become licensed while a process server simply has to pay $10 to their county auditor with no test, knowledge, or educational requirement. A private investigator has to take a four-hour block of instruction, pass a 50 question test with a firm understanding of ALL material in the test, complete a criminal background check through the Washington State Patrol, and have a bona fide offer of employment from a PI Agency. All of this establishes with the client the sense that a PI will overcome more obstacles to accomplish the task than your run-of-the-mill process server.
Second, the process server does not have access to data resources available to private investigators. I can recall numerous services of process where I had to use data resources such as TransUnion, CLEAR, and other such data brokers to find information and make intuitive leaps about how to find the subject of the service. More often than not, the information I receive from law firms regarding where they need service is incorrect or out dated. Using the information they provide me, it takes roughly 10 minutes to construct a complete history profile on an individual and determine my next step to finding him or her. Best of all, I can do this from my phone! While I’m out trying to serve process, I can locate individuals from my phone and build the plan all without having to waste the client’s time coming back to the office to “regroup.” Using the resources listed above, I was even able to call the subject of the service and request he meet me! I would be very interested to see a standard process server do that.
Third, because there is service to be done there must be a court case opened; a complaint has been filed somewhere. As a private investigator, I can be called as an expert witness regarding anything that I saw while serving process. Any information that I gathered to conduct the service, any intuitive leaps gathered based upon evidence, etc., all can be used to benefit my clients in their upcoming court battle. A process server has the ability to testify about what they saw but they cannot be called as an expert witness, generally speaking.
Finally, Washington State law requires that PI agencies have a bond or insurance to protect us and our clients from tortious actions. Gamma Security Group maintains Professional Errors & Omissions (E&O) coverage for both the agency and our clients. Because of this coverage, which a vast majority (if not all) process servers do not have, we are able to ensure that our services are secured, should any negative aspects arise.
Hiring a PI to do your service of process may seem like overkill to some. “Why do I need a tank when a sedan will do just fine?” More often than not, you appreciate the protection provided to you when you utilize a trained and educated professional rather than someone looking for some extra spending money for the holidays. You want someone who is capable, and has proven their ability to think on their feet, make the right choice in a critical moment, and place your needs at the top of their priority list. You want someone who is capable of delivering results regardless of the difficulty of the serve. Finally, you want a server who works with you rather than seeing you as their next “job.” Personalized service. Professional service. Gamma Security Group.