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Can a Vocabulary Lesson Prevent E&O Lawsuits?

Avoid Errors & Omissions lawsuits by teaching your clients the technical vocabulary of your work.

Monday, March 24, 2014/Categories: business-liability-insurance

A recent article from ITWorld.com outlined the top 10 traits of highly effective IT professionals. One of them was to teach less tech-savvy coworkers to “speak geek” – that is, to help them understand the language of the work you do.

The same principle can also help you manage your risk of facing an Errors & Omissions lawsuit. Here’s a look at why this is true and how you can reduce your odds of needing to tap into your E&O Insurance policy.

E&O Insurance More Important for Tech Firms

Industry analysts typically agree that IT professionals have a greater need for E & O Insurance than business owners in other fields. Why? Because IT professionals…

  • Often face a knowledge gap. If you’re working with clients who don’t have a tech background, there’s a good chance they won’t fully understand the project you’ve proposed or agreed to. This can lead to disappointment if you don’t deliver what your client was expecting, even if you adhered strictly to the terms of your contract. Dissatisfied clients are more likely to bring an Errors & Omissions lawsuit against you, which can be costly (think lawyer’s fees and court costs) even if you’re not found liable.
  • Don’t always have the law on their side. This doesn’t mean you’re doing illegal work, it just means that laws often haven’t caught up to the kind of technology IT professionals work with. If you’re targeted with an E&O lawsuit, your attorney may be part of establishing precedent for future IT cases and legislation.

Minimizing the Likelihood of Errors and Omissions Suits

While it’s essential to have E&O Insurance in place to cover your expenses if and when you are sued, you can minimize the chances that you’ll face such a lawsuit by educating your clients about the work you do.

Your clients will likely have varying levels of familiarity with the concepts and terms that you work with, but you can streamline the process of educating them by…

  • Creating a brief glossary. If you’ve noticed that a lot of your clients have questions about certain phrases or concepts you frequently encounter in your work, create a brief glossary document you can hand out with your contract. This will help clarify key concepts from the beginning and prevent the kind of misunderstandings that can lead to E&O lawsuits for tech professionals.
  • Asking questions at the beginning of a contract. Before beginning a project, be sure you’re clear about what your client expects from you and about what you can reasonably deliver. Particularly when you’re working with someone who’s unfamiliar with technical concepts, it’s difficult to over-communicate the expected parameters of a project.
  • Talking over expected outcomes in detail. Many clients who are not tech-savvy understand outcomes better than the components or processes that yield those outcomes. Be sure to take the time to get on the same page about what the final product will look like to prevent misunderstandings after hours of work.
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