Updated 8-15-17. No matter how diligent you are, you can never tell when someone is going to sue you over a notarization you performed. A Notary can be sued even when you’ve done everything right.
If a claim is filed against you, here are 4 steps you can take to reduce the chance of liability and damages:
1. Contact your bond or E&O insurance carrier.
Don’t wait. Immediately contact your bond or insurance carrier. They will handle the case.
2. Locate your journal and document events.
Your journal contains key evidence that law enforcement will use to help your case. It shows that you adhered to laws and best practices, and your attorney will want to have a copy of the journal entry for the notarization in question. It’s also a good idea to document the notarization independent from your journal, recalling details including those present, the location, dates, timelines, circumstances, and anything else pertinent. And collect copies of documents and related records. This will help when your surety carrier or insurer asks for a statement.
3. Don’t talk to opposing counsel.
If contacted by an attorney other than your own, do not say anything regarding the notarization in question or refer the opposing attorney to your insurance company. And never initiate contact with opposing counsel. Your statements are ammunition for the opposition to use against you, and you should only communicate with your own lawyer or with the bonding or insurance company’s representative. Disclosing information could harm your chances of resolving the claim free of financial loss. Simply refer all questions to your attorney.
4. Cooperate with your attorney.
Your attorney is an expert on Notary claims and is working on your behalf. It’s in your best interest to fully cooperate and supply them with accurate, relevant information. The more you cooperate and disclose, the more likely it is that your attorney can prevent any financial loss.
Michael Lewis is Managing Editor of member publications for the National Notary Association.