Can I Sue My Home Inspector for Defects Left Out of the Report?
When purchasing or selling a home, you want to be aware of any material defects that could affect the price of the home or require serious repairs. Home inspectors are expected to be skilled enough to locate defects in a home that must be disclosed in accordance with the law. However, not every inspector exercises care when investigating the condition of a property. If your home inspector negligently failed to discover a defect on your property, you should consult with an experienced Baltimore termite damage lawyer. At Whitney, LLP, our firm is dedicated to providing you with the unique legal representation that you deserve. Our lawyers are here to explain whether you can sue your home inspector for defects left out of their report.
When is an Inspector Liable for a Defect?
Homebuyers will typically seek the assistance of a certified home inspector when deciding to purchase a property. Many inspectors are employed by an engineering or construction company that instruct the inspector on how to perform a proper inspection. However, some inspectors may opt to cut corners when performing an inspection for various reasons, like keeping costs to a minimum.
A home inspection in Maryland requires an inspector to investigate several areas of a home. The Maryland Property Disclosure and Disclaimer Statement have a checklist of areas of the home that should be inspected before the home is sold or purchased. For example, there are questions regarding the structural integrity of the property, heating and cooling systems, the presence of hazardous materials like lead-based paint, and many other inquiries.
Usually, the seller of the property is required to fill out the disclosure or disclaimer statement. The seller may even provide an inspection to the potential buyer. However, it is important to consider hiring your own inspection company to ensure the seller is not attempting to conceal a defect.
If the inspector you hired produces a report that suggests that the property only has minor issues, it is reasonable to rely on their assertion, especially if you thoroughly researched the inspection company. However, there are times when an inspection may not reveal a material defect. A material defect is an issue with a property that may be dangerous to an occupant’s health or safety, or that may require extensive and costly repairs.
An example of a material defect that should not be left out of a report is the existence of a termite infestation. Termite damage could cost you an exorbitant amount of money and may even require you to seek a temporary place to live while you have the termites exterminated.
If an inspector neglects to find a material defect that was reasonably discoverable, they may be liable to the homeowner for certain issues caused by that omission. To learn more about home inspector liability, you should speak with an experienced Maryland termite litigation attorney.
When to File a Claim for a Negligent Inspection
If your inspector negligently omitted a material defect from their report, you may have a valid cause of action for negligence. Before filing a negligence claim, you should gather evidence that proves the inspector failed to detect a certain defect.
One way to document the defect would be to seek an opinion from another trustworthy inspection company. A second or third opinion will help you determine whether your inspector should have discovered a defect before you purchased the property. For example, if the wood beams in your home were hollowed due to termites, there are certain tests that could have exposed the damage.
Before you begin to repair any damage in your home due to the defect, you should document the defect thoroughly. Photographs of the defect and the damage to your property would be prime evidence to keep in anticipation of a trial. If you have physical evidence of the defect, you should also preserve it.
You should also beware of signing any contracts with an inspection company that limits their liability. These contracts may contain restrictive terms that state how much a plaintiff could receive in the event of an omitted property defect. They may also require that the plaintiff must seek arbitration instead of filing a lawsuit. If you signed a contract with an inspection company that restricts your right to compensation, you should bring it to an attorney to be examined. Depending on the circumstances and the terms of the contract, there may be a way to proceed with your claim.
Our Experienced Maryland House Inspection Attorneys are Ready to Represent You
If you or a family member was suffered financial losses and other harm due to an erroneous inspection report, you should contact an experienced Maryland house inspection attorney. The diligent attorneys at Whitney, LLP are prepared to help you pursue a claim against a negligent inspection company. To schedule a consultation, call us at (410) 580-8000, or contact us online.