Litigious inspection warning?

I have never turned down an inspection, but think I need to walk away from this one. The customer called to ask about pricing and stated the inspection was for his mother. After explaining the inspection process and giving him my price, he inquired as to insurance and asked if I was liable for my inspection results. He then informed me he was an attorney. He obviously shopped around for price and called back to schedule the inspection.
I do carry liability insurance ($500,000) but have not filed for incorporation yet to seperate my business from my personal finances. I use the standard Internachi inspection agreement which I think covers most issues as far as liability is concerned. I am also very confident in my inspection skills and know I do a good job. However, A lawsuit has the potential to devastate me as business is slow and I am just keeping my head above water.
I am interested in the opinions of more seasoned inspectors and if anyone has confronted this situation.
John Browning
J.B. Home Inspections

I state, when asked (which is rare), “I neither confirm nor deny whether or not I carry E&O. It’s not required and I don’t want to paint a target on my back by advertising that I carry it (which I might or might not).” If they want to walk after I say that, then I’m glad they did.

When he asked if you were liable for your inspection results, I would have assured him of my competence and would have said that there has never been a complaint against me nor a suit, never an unhappy customer. Then, I would say “however, the legal limit of my liability is the inspection fee, which is outlined in my PIA. I believe that is standard practice in this industry.”

I would do the inspection if he signed my PIA.

Are you an LLC? That’ real easy to do and provides some protection. Are you signed up with to require mediation/arbitration? Those 2 things are recommended, especially if you don’t carry E&O.

First he asked about your liability…

Then he said he’s an attorney…

I’ve been through this sort of thing before and I found it best to walk, I mean, RUN away…far away.

I’ve walked a few such instances and later learned they were set-ups and someone else met the man in court.

I’m just very leery of lawyers when the ask about my liability.

Just had this very situation happen to me a week ago. NO THANKS keep a lookin mister. :slight_smile:

As you may know, General Liability and Professional Liability (E&O) are not the same thing.

And, it was nice chatting with you, John.

I would wonder what kind of “attorney” would ask such a question - assuming that’s what he actually asked. Any attorney worth his salt knows that you are liable.

Good point. We are liable. Many states disclaim limitation of liability. I know Illinois does, for licensed professions.

I would ask, are you so unsure of your inspection product that you “run away” from these types of inspections?

Hope this helps;

Read #5 in 11 Steps that Help Home Inspectors Avoid Lawsuits %between%

Trust youir gut. Your sleep better at night.

Asking about insurance once is a permissible question and I don’t get to excited about it. But if there are repeated questions of that sort then I get very busy, very fast.

I’ve inspected for many lawyers over the years and can’t say I find them any more difficult to deal with then anyone else. I make sure I give them what I promise (but I do that anyway). I make sure they have the agreemetn and SOP well before the inspection so that if it were to come to it they will have a harder time claiming they had no opportunity to read / understand and even negotiate terms if they wished.

I have inspected Numerous properties both residential and commercial for attorneys, half the time I didn’t even know they were barristers until I met them, I’ve never had a problem, but I certainly never had one ask me if-what-I was liable for, but I knew I was liable for the report I produced regardless of what profession my client happens to be in.

I don’t see any evidence that attorney clients sue more often than non-attorney clients do.

I would think any claim by them that they didn’t understand the contract or felt pressured to sign, or that a clause was unenforceable would fall on deaf ears. If anyone understands a contract when they sign it, its going to be a lawyer.

Personally I would simply do the inspection regardless of whether the caller asked me if I was liable for anything I missed, I feel confident enough to inspect any building for any individual and write my findings in a professional like manner without worry of a lawsuit.

Last weekend a Chinese buyer asked me the same questions, he did not understand what an inspection was, after I explained I was not an insurance provider, but just the opposite, I’m here to take a snapshot in time of the condition of this property at the time of the inspection, not tomorrow or the next day, and when my tires hit the blacktop leaving consider my job completed until you receive the uploaded report via email.

But I’m always available free for any questions-concerns he may have in the future, just like all my clients.

No problem with him or anyone else once they understand why they hired me.

Excellent point Mark.

Do the inspection and do a good job. I get lots of referrals from attorneys I did inspections for. The last one I did asked me if my contract was “the liability disclaimer” as he signed it without reading it.:stuck_out_tongue:

No one, except for John, knows what he experienced during the phone call.

I, too, have done work for those in the legal profession including judges, attorneys, prosecutors, etc., with no problems.

As I move along in life I listen more to my gut than I did in my youth and that is what works for me.

Enjoy life and have fun inspecting. :smiley:

It’s been my experience that engineers and accountants read everything thoroughly, ask questions and then sign the PIA.

Attorneys, on the other hand, tend to read only the last paragraph of the PIA, and then sign it.

When I asked my own attorneys about this, I was told; “It really doesn’t matter what we’ve signed. If litigation ensues, we will contest and challenge everything.”


Good point.

If a lawyer, who is aware that limitation of liability clauses are not valid for licensed professionals, in Illinois, actually signs a contract with a limitation of liability clause, do they accept that clause?

Is the Bear Catholic?

Mysteries abound.