One issue many experience when deciding whether or not to hire a lawyer and sue a person or business for a variety of issues is how to locate the person or business who you feel has wronged you. Maybe you’ve tried calling and the phone number associated with the business or individual is now out of service; maybe you’ve visited the business or individual at the address you have on file and notice the person or business has moved. Fortunately, there are ways to locate your potential defendant and, more importantly, there are ways to proceed with a lawsuit even if you cannot personally serve the defendant as required by the Maryland courts.

Finding People vs. Finding Businesses

  • With respect to businesses: States usually have an online record database of business entities and their resident agent or the person who has been assigned by that business to be served with lawsuits. Maryland residents can search the Department of Assessments & Taxation to locate businesses and the resident agent. If you are in another state, you may want to contact an attorney in that state for assistance with their online business database.
  • With individuals: It can be more difficult to locate a person as he or she can move from different residences with relative ease. While some law firms and collections agencies have access to online databases and software that help locate defendants who are subject to lawsuits, most people are left turning to Google, social media, and other online services to find the opposing party.

What to Do When the Defendant Hides from Lawsuits

Maryland courts are certainly aware that individuals do attempt to hide from lawsuits that they may know are coming. As such, the courts permit individuals in Maryland to file a Motion for Alternative Service. In this motion, the person searching for the defendant can inform the court that he/she has filed a lawsuit and has attempted to find the defendant through a number of ways. These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Mailing a letter to the defendant at his/her last known address via certified mail;
  • Mailing a letter to the defendant’s employer in an attempt to obtain the defendant’s current address;
  • Hiring a private investigator or retain legal counsel to assist in locating the defendant; and/or
  • Mailing a letter to the defendant’s friends and/or relatives in an attempt to locate the defendant’s current address.

The above is not a comprehensive list of methods the court will ask that you attempt to find the defendant listed in your lawsuit before considering your motion. Once you file your motion, a judge will then decide whether your attempts are enough to approve your Motion for Alternative Service, which will then allow you to serve notice on the defendant by only posting or publicizing the lawsuit in a local publication. The court’s approval of your motion is similar to you personally handing the lawsuit to your defendant.

Contact the Experienced Collections Lawyers at Andalman & Flynn in Maryland

At Andalman & Flynn, we have experienced attorneys who have assisted many individuals and companies in filing lawsuits as well as locating and serving individuals and businesses. Please contact our collections attorneys to discuss the facts of your case.

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