10 Ways Home Inspectors Can Reduce the Risk of a Lawsuit, Part 1
When it comes to Home Inspecting, the word “always” could save you from a lawsuit. Below are tips that, if consistently followed, could reduce your risk of a home inspector lawsuit.
Always Remember Your Option to Turn Away Potential Clients
We all know some clients just are not worth it. When you can see a nightmare coming a mile away remember, it is okay to turn down clients. The best way to avoid a lawsuit is to never become involved with a potential plaintiff in the first place.
Always Use Signs
May be you have not heard the stories. A potential homebuyer follows a home inspector onto a roof, then slips and falls off. A realtor falls down a ladder. Cases like these happen and when they do, lawsuits result. A simple preventative method is to buy signs (“STOP! Stay Back”) or even make your own and place them in strategic areas such as at the base of ladders and stairs. It is a simple prevention method that will pay off.
Always Use a Camera
A photograph can mean the difference between absolute proof and mere words. A good rule of thumb is to photograph everything (even the signs!). With digital cameras there is no need to worry about the cost of buying film and a cheap camera will do the job. Take photos, save them in a folder on your computer labeled with the date, and keep them for as long as you can. Also consider backing up your digital picture files. Check out some more photo tips for Home Inspectors here.
Always Use Standard & Consistent Wording
There are many situations where a home inspector is left to make a judgment call on how to word an issue in the home inspection report. Trying to find the right terminology to clearly explain a situation as well as guard you from liability can sometimes be difficult. Using the same wording for the same issues every time is critical. It may help to keep a notepad of standard phrases for each situation so you never forget.
Always Quote the Standards of Practice (SOP)
As a Home Inspector, you are well aware of the Standards of Practice of the organization to which you belong. When you come across a problem that those SOPs, as well as local and state laws, specifically address, do not hesitate to word the problem in those terms. When you do, you are referring to the body of governing rules and reflecting those important standards in your work. Here is a great article to further explain the best way to implement this idea. RISKPRO has also created a Home Inspector’s Resources page that provides links to several of the national organizations and state SOPs.
These 5 “Always” helpful tips are the first part on how to minimize your risk of being sued. And remember, as a Home Inspector, you need to carry Professional Liability/Errors & Omissions Insurance. RISKPRO can help you understand exactly what you need so you can focus on your clients.
Please note: this blog is merely a general discussion of topical matters involving the home inspection industry and is not and should not be construed as legal advice of any kind. Further, as laws differ from state to state and because laws related to home inspectors changes regularly, please consult with an attorney in the proper jurisdiction to obtain legal advice on any particular matter.