ASCE Member Insurance Blog

Engineers’ Duties Outside of a Written Contract: Avoiding Pitfalls Through Proper Documentation

Posted on 3/9/2017 by ASCE Insurance in Liability Contracts Legal Documentation

As with any profession, a contract for engineering services specifies the terms of agreements, services to be exchanged, deadlines, and estimated costs. It also outlines the specific duties of the project's engineering firm.1 However, as a project progresses, its scope—and thus the engineering firm's duties—can expand. As an engineer, it's important to be aware that taking on duties outside those outlined in your contract may increase your liability.2 To understand how, consider the real-life scenario described below.

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Claim Retrospective: Clients’ Unauthorized Use of Plans and Drawings or Seal and Stamp

Posted on 3/9/2017 by ASCE Insurance in Claims Liability Legal Clients Plans

Unfortunately, clients commonly use engineers' plans and drawings on subsequent projects without the engineer's permission. Even worse, clients have altered engineers’ plans and drawings before using them in subsequent projects, again without the engineer's approval. Shockingly, clients have even used an engineer's seal and stamp without their authorization.

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Construction Observation Duties Do Not Make an Engineer Responsible for On-Site Safety

Posted on 10/6/2016 by ASCE Insurance in Liability Legal Duties

It is common for engineers to be named as defendants in lawsuits by construction workers who are injured while working at the construction site. Often, an injured worker’s attorney will name everyone involved in the project and determine who is liable later, or even worse, invent a reason why a party might be liable. As in most circumstances, the engineer’s contract and/or conduct will determine the duties of the engineer and, thus, whether the engineer can possibly have any liability for an on-site construction accident.1

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Claim Retrospective: The Significance of a Global Settlement in Multi-Party Litigation

Posted on 10/6/2016 by ASCE Insurance in Claims Contracts Legal

Why can’t we settle the claim? The answer is often that we cannot obtain a global settlement. Unfortunately, such an answer is not always easy for engineers to understand. As you might imagine, the more parties involved in the litigation, the more difficult it can be to get everyone to agree on a resolution.

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Know the Limits of Your Contract

Posted on 4/15/2016 by ASCE Insurance in Construction Contracts Legal

General contractors and developers rarely have insurance covering construction defect claims, and they regularly become insolvent and/or judgment proof after a project is completed. Because of this, homebuyers often attempt to expand the duties of design professionals beyond those imposed by common law or agreed to in a contract. Illinois homebuyers recently attempted to expand the duties and attendant liability of design professionals by arguing the doctrine of implied warranty of habitability applies to design professionals.

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How Document Retention Could Save You

Posted on 12/17/2015 by ASCE Insurance in Legal Documentation Spoilation Sanctions

A professional’s inability to produce important evidence during a lawsuit alleging negligence may result in sanctions.1 State law determines whether spoliation of evidence may result in sanctions, and the nature of any sanctions imposed against a party who fails to preserve important evidence can vary greatly by state.

By Terri Stough, Esq.

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A Closer Look at Your Reporting Requirements

Posted on 10/15/2015 by ASCE Insurance in Legal Reporting Documentation

All professional architects and engineers risk having claims brought against them in relation to their work. Some claims may have merit. However, some professionals can get caught in a wide net cast by a claimant trying to recoup unexpected losses, regardless of actual fault. Notwithstanding the frivolity of a claim, once a case settles or a judgment is rendered, you may be obligated by your state to report the settlement or judgment to your professional board.

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The Truth About Tolling Agreements

Posted on 8/14/2015 by ASCE Insurance in Claims Legal Reporting Tolling

A “tolling agreement” is “an agreement between a potential plaintiff and a potential defendant by which the defendant agrees to extend the statutory limitations period on the plaintiff’s claim, usually so that both parties will have more time to resolve their dispute without litigation.”1

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What You Need to Know About Liability Clauses

Posted on 3/13/2015 by ASCE Insurance in Contracts Legal Liability Clause

Many architects and engineers incorporate a limitation of liability clause into their contracts. A limitation of liability clause is exactly what it sounds like: a clause that limits your liability in the event of a claim. Limitation of liability clauses establish “a contractual ceiling on the amount of damages to be awarded if a plaintiff prevails in later litigation between the contracting parties.” Therefore, a limitation of liability clause is a useful precautionary piece of armor to include in your contract.

By Sarah A. Johnson, Esq.

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How to Memorialize Your Scope of Services

Posted on 3/13/2015 by ASCE Insurance in Claims Contracts Legal Reporting

Recent claims have revealed that a number of engineers have not been memorializing the scope of their services in writing, either in a written contract or even in a written work order. While this may not be problematic if the project proceeds smoothly, projects often involve complications and issues, leaving the client/owner dissatisfied with some aspect of work. Nor is it unusual for serious construction defects to surface after the completion of a project. Thus, the best practice is for you to routinely memorialize the scope of your services in writing, preferably through the use of a written contract.

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