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Notary Tip: 4 Steps To Take If You Are Sued

Updated 9-19-22. 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 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.


4 Steps To Take If A Claim Is Filed Against You

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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.


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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.

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