Or, How to Serve a Ghost.

Service by publication is the opposite of personal service.

In fact, it is so impersonal, that it does not ever notify the defendant that he has been sued.

And that is okay.

Service by publication is utilized to effectuate service on defendants that have effectively disappeared. 

Defendants that have evaded service, that have fled, that have moved and cannot be found…

The thing to remember about serving somebody by publication is that it is not real; it is merely an illusion. 

And since it is only a figment of your imagination, it cannot be used to secure a real judgment against a real person.

But, while imaginary service cannot uphold a real-life judgment against a real live person, it can be used to generate an imaginary judgment that you can then take to your UM carrier to request payment.

Service by publication only has value (in the auto accident litigation context) if the plaintiff intends to proceed against the UM carrier.

If the plaintiff intends to proceed against the defendant (personally) or against the defendant’s liability carrier, then the plaintiff must secure a real judgment.

Which means personal service of process.