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Can You Serve Someone in the Hospital?

Serving legal papers can sometimes be difficult if you are unable to locate the person needing to be served. If the person is in the hospital, you may wonder if they can still be served. There are a few rules about this. Here’s what you need to know.


The hospital staff and the private process server have to observe the rules of HIPPA. This means that in some cases the hospital staff may not be able to tell you if the individual is there or not. It also means that you may not be able to gain access to the ward that they are on in order to serve the papers. In some of these cases, papers can be delivered to the patient by the hospital staff. In other situations, service of process will have to wait until they are out of the hospital.

Florida Law

Florida law does not prohibit patients in a hospital from being served. However, in some states it is against the law to serve someone in the hospital. If you are working with a private process server or sheriff in another state, you may need to wait until they are out of the hospital to have them served.

Incapacitated or Incompetent

If a patient is incapacitated, incompetent, or permanently disabled, you may not be able to serve them papers whether they are in the hospital or not. In some cases you can still have the papers served. However, in other cases, you may need to serve the power of attorney or guardian of the patient rather than or in addition to the patient themselves.

If you have legal papers that need to be served and the individual is currently in the hospital, service of process can be complicated but still workable. Contact us today for more information or to get started.