Once you have filed your Statement of Claim (within two years of the date of your accident), the next deadline that you face under the Rules of Court, is that you must ‘serve’ the Statement of Claim on all of the people/companies that you have named as Defendants in your Statement of Claim. For each Defendant, you will have to determine their current residence or where they work and then physically hand over a copy of the filed Statement of Claim to them. This is what it means to ‘serve’ a Statement of Claim. If you have a lawyer acting on your behalf, the lawyer will hire a ‘process server’ who will serve the Statement of Claim on the Defendants. The process server will then prepare an ‘Affidavit of Service’ that will set out the date and place that the process server served the Statement of Claim on the Defendants.
If one or more of the Defendants is a corporation, then you will have to obtain a corporate search from a local Registry in order to determine where the registered office is of the corporation. The Statement of Claim can then be served by registered mail or by personal delivery to the registered office of the Defendant corporation.
It is not uncommon for Plaintiffs to have some difficulty locating Defendants or encounter situations where Defendants are actively trying to avoid being served with a Statement of Claim. In those situations, your lawyer can apply to the court for a ‘Substitutional Service Order’. This Court Order allows the Plaintiff to serve the Statement of Claim by a manner other than personal service on the Defendants. Typical Substitutional Service Orders will allow the Plaintiff to serve the Statement of Claim to the door of the residence of the Defendant or to place an advertisement in the local newspaper of the last known town or city where the Defendant resided.
Much like the requirement for the Statement of Claim to be filed within two years of your accident, service of the Statement of Claim has to happen within one year of the filing of the Statement of Claim or your claim will expire (with very few limited exceptions) under the Limitations Act of Alberta. Obviously with such a serious negative consequence of failing to ensure that service of the Statement of Claim is completed on time, this is a task best left to a lawyer.