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Notary Tip: 4 steps to take if you are sued

A person talking on a phone.

Updated 9-12-23. Notaries can be sued at any time — even when notarizations are performed correctly. It's crucial you follow these 4 steps to reduce any liability and damages should a complaint ever be filed against you.

1. Contact your bond or E&O insurance carrier.

Don’t wait. Immediately contact your insurance carrier if you have an E&O policy. They will handle the case. Many policies require an insured to notify the carrier of a claim or lawsuit within a certain number of days in order for the claim to be covered.

2. Locate your journal and be sure to document events.

Your journal contains key evidence that your attorney 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 independently 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.


4 Steps To Take If A Claim Is Filed Against You

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4 steps to take if a claim is filed against you document

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.

Related Articles:

Protect Yourself: Require Notary signers to personally appear

Take extra care when performing high-risk Notarizations

Additional Resources:

Minimize Your Liability

NNA Hotline

10 Steps To Prevent Notary Claims (PDF)

View All: Notary News


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29 Aug 2016

this is a ridiculous requirement!!

jesus m jimenez

29 Aug 2016

It cost me $17,500.00 to defend myself. It was a vexatious litigant. Then this litigant went to the Secretary of State's office. That is another story and $4,000.00 to state, lack of due diligence on the state. Notaries be careful.

Johnny S. Garcia Jr

01 Sep 2016

There is contradictory information regarding the "DONT'S".,Please review and advise correctly if opposing attorney contacts a notary. Do we, or do we not refer opposing attorneys to insurance company????

National Notary Association

01 Sep 2016

Hello. There was some confusion regarding the wording in the article. We have edited it for clarity and apologize for any inconvenience.

Notary Witness by Subpoena

13 Sep 2021

I was subpoenaed in a case that had nothing to do with the quality of my notary services and instead the judge wanted to get a better idea of my observations of all parties involved in a guardianship proceeding that was held out of town. I contacted my insurance carrier (policy bought through the NNA) and was informed that a notary pays for their own expenses and legal representation out of pocket and only if you "win" your case does the notary insurance step in to reimburse you after your deductible. I had to pay for my own travel and meals based on the court's curiosity. Please don't imagine that there will be anyone materially helping you at the nominal cost of $25 per year. Although I now carry a much stronger policy, I would not count on anyone to assist me with anything.


26 Sep 2022

Notary Witness by Subpoena - Will you kindly share who your policy carrier is, and what type of "stronger policy" you have now? I have read the fine print too, and am concerned I'm not covered as you were. Thanks!


26 Sep 2022

What is the best insurance policy to get? I have policy through NNA for $100,000. But, I’m gathering from what I’m reading that if I have to go to court and defend myself the policy I have only works if I win? What’s the point, then??

National Notary Association

06 Oct 2022

Thank you for your question about Errors & Omissions insurance. E&O policies include legal defense for the Notary for unintentional errors that may happen during a covered notarization. A covered notarization is one that’s performed while the E&O policy is active. The coverage does not depend on whether you win or lose a verdict.

Rashawn Brown

06 Oct 2022

How can I sue a notary who willingly notarized divorce papers while I was not present? What about her journal?

National Notary Association

07 Oct 2022

Hello. You would need to speak with a qualified attorney to answer any legal questions regarding filing a lawsuit.

getald birk

25 Sep 2023

boy, some conflicting comments on the E&O insurance. kinda worrysome. gonna have to go to my friend (state attourney) and have him take a look before I renew. Thanks!

Robert G Gostl

25 Sep 2023

I have been a Louisiana Civil Law notary since 1995. Over the years I have received phone calls from attorneys wanting to ask me questions regarding a notarization that I provided, most commonly regarding a will or power of attorney. My response to them is to send me a subpoena for a deposition or court appearance and I will answer any question under oath. If I get a subpoena I then contact Merchants Bonding (my Errors and Omissions carrier) and notify them that I am being subpoenaed to answer questions about a notarization I provided. In each instance the E&O carrier has provided me with an attorney who dealt directly with the inquiring attorney and has accompanied me to a deposition or court appearance to represent me. Bottom line: A notary can go from a witness to a defendant quickly without proper counsel and representation.

Sheryl D. Armstrong

25 Sep 2023

Great Day: Notary Tip: 4 steps to take in case you are sued: 1) Errors and Omissions insurance is not required in New Jersey but is an important asset to have for protection. Things like homes, health insurance, pet insurance, automobile etc. are insured or there is some type of coverage. Ask yourself, why not buy security for you livelihood? These are facts that make insurance necessary on protecting yourself from any or possible notarial errors and false claims. 2) Our journals are the key elements of important facts in details and entries documented. We must remember to make sure that we document everything no matter how petty we think something is; record it accurately, neatly and thoroughly. In the legal world attorneys will subpoena or request a copy of your journal for evidence and accountability on your part. Always abide by the laws of your state and remember to keep your journal in a safe and secure place. Do not leave any notary tools left unsecured. 3) It's never permitted to talk or submit any information to the opposing attorney. Any thing said or submitted can be used against you as ammunition in the court of law. Please, do not contact the plaintiff side in any form or fashion. Remember, when you have purchased the E&O policy; all support that you need is included. Wow, if you have not made a decision to do so, reconsider all options for your safety and coverage. 4) Your attorney will want full cooperation as far as all relevant facts on the particulars and details of the claim filed against you. All questions and concerns will be discussed and handled by your own legal representative. They know how to prevent financial loss. I think I covered it all in a helpful way and I hope this is helpful and understandable for your future expertise. I wish everyone well and best practices in your journey. P.S. for your consideration: NA E&O Policies cover, up to your policy coverage amount: Your legal defense by an expert in Notary Law Your claim, legal fees and court costs And requires no deductible and no repayment of losses

John Binns

29 Sep 2023

This is a great article! I assist notary’s every day preparing for lawsuites, there are affordsble legal plans out there that will give notary’s piece of mind. I used to be a notary and was terrified of being sued.


30 Sep 2023

I work for a Commercial Bank in Maryland. I obtained Maryland Notary per my employer request in order to notarize Bank’s documents (loans, affidavits, etc.) This is what I thought. My employer insists that I take walk in Notaries that do not have anything to do with banking at our Bank. Notary laws over the years became very complicated. I always follow Maryland Notary law and often refuse to notarize. Generally, it happens, when documents do not comply with Maryland Notary Laws (no Notarial certificate, missing/blank info, name different, misspelled or missing). Sometimes when clients do not speak English, do not have matching name ID, etc. When I try to explain to walk in person why I cannot perform Notary service (I don’t even like to explain to them why as it sounds like I give them legal advice which is I do not but they can take it that way), they do not understand why become “other same bank Notaries notarized similar documents in the past” and they often have proof of it showing me the documents. Often, I review documents (which takes a while and keeps me away from my actual duties), tell then that I cannot notarize it as is, and then another employee who is a Notary steps in and notarizes the document I declined to perform Notary on. To tell you the truth, other Notaries at my bank will notarize anything Because of that, on few occasions, walk ins accused me of discriminating them. I asked my employer to delegate a counselor, who specializes in Maryland Notary Law to review documents and communicate directly to walk in the requirements of notaries, but they do not want to do it as they do not provide legal services. My employer also states that any legal fees, travel, etc. if ever results must be covered by me personally and for any time off I ask to appear in court I have to take vacation time or unpaid time off. Can I just do Notaries that related to my actual job? What should I do? I do not make any income for doing walk in Notaries (I am a salaried employee).

National Notary Association

13 Nov 2023

While it is up to an individual Notary on what they will/will not Notarize, if you determine that a document does not meet the requirements to have the signature Notarized then you should not Notarize it. When a customer states that a similar document was Notarized by another Notary in the past, does not mean that the Notary should have Notarized it. While an employer can tell you the types of documents that you can Notarize, you are not allowed to Notarize a document that fails to meet the requirements to be Notarized. When it comes to fees, expenses, salary etc., that is between the Notary and their employer. This includes insurance, legal fees, and travel costs.

09 Oct 2023

This is good information for a new Notary Public agent to know.

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