You engineer innovative solutions for clients that enable roadways and buildings to work. This comes with tremendous risk, as project failures can lead to a cascade of events that could force your business to crumble if you’re not properly insured. Standard contract language typically passes the responsibility for project failures onto the engineer, leaving you with costly defense fees and a damaged reputation. Consider the following real claims scenario.
Designers held liable for project failure because they lacked documentation to prove their innocence
One city needed a new mass transit route to accommodate a spike in local winter tourism. A professional design firm was retained to integrate decorative pavers and snow melt technology into the new route. When the new route subsequently malfunctioned, the independent engineer hired to investigate found that the road’s insulation was designed and installed incorrectly. The city sued the design team – including the landscape architect, the mechanical engineer and the insulation manufacturer, for faulty design and installation of the system. Since accurate documentation and record retention were not championed by the designers, after four years of litigation, they were all named partly responsible.
The moral? Make sure your business has the necessary engineers Professional Liability insurance to back you up whether you do or don’t maintain accurate project documentation and records because odds are the owner/operator will be looking to point a finger.
As an engineering design professional you need to be prepared for two common sources of professional liability exposure:
- Contract language