Posted May 31, 2018 in Process Service
Unfortunately, assault is a risk inherent with the process serving profession. While prevention of assault is ideal, aggressive reactions, physical violence and even the threat of death are all possible when you work in the field. This guide is intended to be a quick reference for process servers who are assaulted in the performance of their duties. You may not be thinking clearly having just been assaulted, so the following paragraphs outline the basic steps you should take if you are involved in an assault incident.
STEP 1: GET TO A SAFE PLACE
Remove yourself from the situation. Now is not the time to consider pride or righteousness. Walk, run or drive far enough away so you can collect your thoughts and gather your emotions.
STEP 2: ASSESS INJURIES
Once in a safe place, thoroughly assess any injuries you have sustained. If you are hurt, how badly? What may seem minor to you at the time could be more serious than you think. Consider getting checked out, both as a health/safety precaution, and also to have a record of the injuries. Take pictures showing any immediate marks. If you need medical attention, make sure that you can get there by yourself. Don’t take a chance, especially with head injuries. Call for a ride, or dial 911 if appropriate.
STEP 3: ASSESS DAMAGE
Check your clothes, and personal property in your possession for any damage. Is something ripped, smashed, scratched, chipped, cracked, torn or otherwise broken? Photograph any damage right away, or as soon as possible thereafter.
STEP 4: ANYTHING MISSING?
Check to make sure that you are not missing anything like your phone, wallet, keys, eyeglasses, clipboard, sunglasses, etc. If you discover that something is missing, consider calling the Police or Sheriff right away to assist in retrieving your personal items.
STEP 5: CONTACT THE AUTHORITIES
Always make sure to report any assault incident to the police, no matter how minor. It not only creates a permanent record of what happened during this particular instance from your perspective; but it will also protect others in the future. Also, if questions arise later as to what actually transpired during the service, a detailed police report will be very helpful.
STEP 6: DOCUMENT THE INCIDENT
While you are waiting on the authorities from a safe location, take a few minutes to write down everything that you can remember about the incident. Take detailed notes of what happened from start to finish including any verbal exchanges, what you were assaulted with, and any injuries. Include a timeline as best as you can remember. If you did sustain injuries during the incident, the pictures you took right after the incident or at the hospital may be very important down the road. Continue with pictures daily showing the progress of the injuries. They may look worse for a few days before showing signs of healing.
STEP 7: NOTIFY EMPLOYER/CLIENT
Your employer may have a policy in place if an incident occurs on the job. Contact your supervisor or client to make them aware of what happened. It is also important to share your experience with other process servers to prevent similar attacks. Being assaulted is traumatic. Counseling and other support may be provided by some employers to help you deal emotionally with the assault.
STEP 8: NOTIFY YOUR STATE ASSOCIATION
Contact your association to make them aware of the incident. Some associations have an assault advisor to provide guidance and help you through your assault situation. Process server associations across the country are taking strides to better protect members (and the entire profession) through legislative changes, assault prevention meetings or classes, and by hosting discussions at industry events. Some associations have been successful in having assault on a process server upgraded from a misdemeanor to a felony charge.
STEP 9: REPORT THE INCIDENT TO PAAPRS
PAAPRS is a National database of Process Serving Assaults. Go to www.Serve-Now.com and register your incident.