If you read home inspection industry message boards with any level of fidelity, you cannot fail to notice a general lack of confidence in our legal system among home inspectors. They never expect to get a fair shake in court. And especially in Small Claims Court.

To someone who has spent most of his adult life upholding the legal system, I find this overarching despondency troubling. And quite unwarranted in my experience. Nevertheless, I completely understand why home inspectors feel that way.

In the overwhelming majority of cases against home inspectors that I have handled, claimants and their lawyers are not only constantly vastly overestimating the level of their damages, they do not even recognize that they do not have a case in the first place. While I am not surprised that home inspection claimants might make those mistakes, I am continuingly astonished that their attorneys do.

As I stress in my home inspector training with the Law and Disorder Seminar, the only cases that actually get to trial are those that are being erroneously evaluated by one or more parties and/or their lawyers. Either the plaintiff thinks that the case is worth a lot more than it actually is or the defendant thinks that it is worth a lot less than it actually is. If a case is being properly evaluated on the basis of established incontrovertible facts, it should either settle or be abandoned.

In my practice, I represent both plaintiffs and defendants and my cardinal rule when representing plaintiffs is this: I do not take plaintiff cases that a. I am not going to win and b. do not have enormous damages. That’s one for the “Duh File”, right? You would be surprised.

As an attorney, when representing a plaintiff, what you want to do is send a demand letter and get a check back by return mail. That is why demand letters from attorneys always stress that you should turn the letter over to your insurance carrier. They don’t want to deal with you, they want to deal with the guy who is going to roll over and send them a check. And if they can send a check that is within your deductible, well, it really doesn’t get better than that for an insurance claim examiner.

So hearing from me, rather than a claims examiner with a checkbook, really gums up the works. Fortunately, when I advise claimants’ attorneys that they do not have a case, generally for a litany of compelling reasons, for the most part their reaction is one of gratitude that I have spared them the trouble of pursuing a worthless claim.

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