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When is an engineer liable for a construction defect incident?

| Aug 12, 2020 | Construction Law |

Liability in construction law matters can vary significantly. When so many parties are involved in an accident or a defect leading to losses, it can be difficult to pinpoint who is at fault. Perhaps even more so than other related cases, construction defect issues are approached on a case-by-case basis. It all boils down to the root of the event in question and whether an engineer’s negligence led to a related defect.

Negligence in the case of a design professional or engineer is a failure to exercise the amount of care necessary to perform duties owed to another party. This “necessary amount of care” is also known as a standard of care. In the case of a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the engineer’s negligent actions or inaction led to the incident which caused the injury and ensuing injury damages.

The engineer’s employment classification may make a difference

Cause and liability for damages are not always the same. An engineer’s actions may have led to a defect but, depending on their contract and involvement, they may not be the party who pays in the event of an injury or damages.

If, for example, the engineer associated with a construction project was an employee of a firm that held professional liability insurance, an injured party may need to make a claim with that insurance company.

In these cases, it is not very likely that the plaintiff would directly sue the employed engineer for damages. However, the employed engineer may face a lawsuit in the event that the engineer’s firm is no longer in business and there is no longer a professional liability insurance policy covering them.

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Dana Watts is a board certified civil trial lawyer by the Florida Bar Board of Legal Specialization with more than 30 years of litigation experience. He also received an AV* peer review rating through Martindale-Hubbell.

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