Employer Liability for Notary's Negligence

Is a notary's employer liable for the notary's mistakes? The answer is usually yes. Many state's laws do not provide any limit to the liability of a notary, and when a notary is acting in the course of his or her employment, that liability often extends to the notary's employer.

For example, let's say you are a notary who works in a title office. Your boss comes to you and wants you to notarize a deed. The signer appears before you, produces identification, and acknowledges the deed. However, you notice that the identification doesn't look right, and the signatures don't match. Still, your boss vouches for the signer, and you proceed with the notarization.

Six months later, it turns out that the person who appeared before you was an impersonator, and the boss was in on it. Now, the real property owner wants to go after you for damages. Your boss thinks he's off the hook, but the property owner can also sue your employer. In this case, both the notary AND the employer are equally liable.

Notaries must be firm and remind their employers that they offer their notarial services to the company as a convenience and that as public officials they are bound by notary laws.

An employer, on the other hand, has a duty to ensure that employed notaries are trained and are acting appropriately and within the scope of the notary laws.

It's important to note, however, that state laws may differ with regard to liability, and you should always consult your own state's laws. If you are concerned with your own liability as a notary, you may want to consider purchasing errors and omissions insurance, which would protect you in the event you make an unintentional error in performing your notarial duties. The American Association of Notaries offers various E&O policies at competitive prices.


-- Robert T. Koehler, Florida Notary Educator, is a Contributing Writer with the American Association of Notaries

Legal disclaimer: The American Association of Notaries seeks to provide timely articles for notaries to assist them with information and ideas for managing their notary businesses, enhancing their notary educations, and securing their notary supplies but makes no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained . Information in this article is not intended as legal advice. We are not attorneys. We do not pretend to be attorneys. Though we will sometimes provide information regarding federal laws and statutes and the laws and statutes of each state, we have gathered the information from a variety of sources. We do not warrant the information gathered from those sources. It is your responsibility to know the appropriate laws governing your state. Notaries are advised to seek the advice of an attorney in their state if they have legal questions about how to notarize.

Notary bonds and errors and omissions insurance policies provided by this insurance agency, American Association of Notaries, Inc., are underwritten by Western Surety Company, Universal Surety of America, or Surety Bonding Company of America, which are subsidiaries of CNA Surety.