The American Bar Association announced that for the first time in the nearly thirty years they have been tracking malpractice statistics, real estate law passed personal injury to top the number of malpractice claims. The source of the claims was most often real estate documents such as the HUD-1 settlement statement. You may think this finding doesn’t affect you, but no matter how honest and careful you are you still face potential liability.
“Oops” Is Not A Legal Defense
Evil Attorney A is a mustache-twirling villain from a cartoon. He deliberately and fraudulently files real estate paperwork that misrepresents the sale and puts money in his pocket. Sweet Attorney B is a hard-working lawyer who does lots of pro bono work and is nice to his mother. One day he puts a number in the wrong box on the HUD-1, purely by accident. Which lawyer is going to get penalized? Probably both of them.
The difference between maliciously breaking the law and accidentally making a mistake is virtually nothing in the eyes of a judge. While intent may have some bearing on the case, results are what matter. If you prepare or file a HUD 1 statement incorrectly, and your error jeopardizes the sale, costs either party money, or otherwise creates a problem then you may still be subject to penalties.
Software Protects Your Practice
A court’s position is that an experienced and ethical attorney will implement controls to make sure mistakes don’t happen, or at least are far less likely. Having those controls may convince the court to be lenient. HUD settlement statement software like Easy HUD ensures that much of the preparation, calculation and filing of the forms are handled in a predictable and accurate manner.
The use of title closing software not only reduces the errors but can provide information vital to a malpractice defense. The automatic audit trail created will be important evidence that the blunder was, in fact, a one-time mistake rather than a deliberate attempt at fraud. It also shows that the practice is making an effort to control the environment and reduce the opportunity to make errors.
Although attorney practice management software doesn’t make your firm malpractice-proof, it can minimize errors and provide evidence of intent. Protect your practice with the latest law practice technology.