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Liability of Engineers: How to Stay Out of Trouble

1.4 CEUs | Monday–Tuesday, March 21–22

Special Offer:  A professional liability Risk Management Credit of 10% is earned when you attend the ASCE continuing education seminar, Liability of Engineers: How to Stay out of Trouble and purchase professional liability insurance from the ASCE Sponsored Program. The seminar must have been completed within the past 15 months. You must submit a Certificate of Attendance at the time of your application for coverage. At least one principal of the firm must submit a certificate for the firm to receive a credit. The maximum Risk Management Credit is 10% of your total premium.


Peter Liloia III, Esq., A.M.ASCE

Great presenter! He is very knowledgeable and covered the topic perfectly. — Jeffry Lovell, Lovell Engineering Associates, Valdosta, GA

Purpose and background

There has been an expansion over the years of the liability of engineers for design, job site inspection, safety, and contract administration. This course will cover the responsibilities and liabilities of engineers, both contractually and from case law. It will provide an understanding of the interrelationships between engineers, owners, and contractors on a project and the contract and legal principles which apply thereto. You will learn how to properly document the job and why it is essential. You will learn how to head off problems by using the right contract language including clean and fair terms. Advice will be given on actions to take during the design phase and the construction phase, which will minimize problems, and how to effectively resolve disputes that inevitably surface. The seminar will be presented in an informal, interactive style, using real-life examples. Participants will be given practical, hands-on advice and guidance on how to best conduct themselves and thus, avoid trouble.

Seminar benefits and learning outcomes

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Explain the responsibilities and liabilities of engineers, owners, and contractors.
  • Eliminate problems up front by using the right language and procedures in the contract and specification.
  • Properly document the job and explain why this is crucial 
  • Explain negotiation, mediation, and arbitration, and why they are good alternatives to court
  • Discover what preemptive actions should be taken to reduce and eliminate liability issues and avoid problems down the road.

Assessment of learning outcomes

Case studies, real-life examples, and class exercises will be used to assess achievement of learning outcomes.

Who should attend?

  • Consulting engineers
  • Field engineers
  • Project managers
  • Construction managers
  • Contractors and subcontractors
  • Government agencies and public owners
  • Private owners and developers
  • Design-build firms
  • Architects
  • Attorneys

Seminar outline 

Day 1 | Time: 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET

  • Engineer's warranty to contractor re: adequacy of design
  • Liability of engineers
    • Design
    • Inspection and contract administration
    • Means and methods; safety
    • Shop drawing approval
    • Actions engineers can take to minimize exposure
  • Effect of incomplete, ambiguous, or incorrect design documents
    • Impact on project and to contractor
    • Consequences to engineer
    • Ways to reduce claims and mitigate impact
  • Typical construction contract terms: meaning and ramifications
  • How fair contracts work for you/how harsh contracts can hurt you - part I
    • Site investigation/subsurface conditions
    • No damage for delay
    • Indemnification 

Day 2 | Time: 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET

  • How fair contracts work for you/how harsh contracts can hurt you - part II
    • Notice of claim
    • Design professional attempts to absolve himself from liability for his own mistakes
  • Differing site conditions/superior knowledge doctrine
    • Definition
    • Purpose of differing site conditions clause
    • Common occurrences
    • Effect of site investigation clauses and disclaimers
    • Superior knowledge doctrine
    • Formal contract requirements
    • Change order for equitable adjustment
    • What if owner denies contractor's claim for differing site conditions?
    • Geotechnical design reports
    • Ways to minimize differing site conditions claims
  • How to document the job and why it's critical
    • Why is documentation so important?
    • What are the characteristics of good documentation?
    • How should the job be documented?
    • Risk of not having good documentation
  • Dispute resolution options and their benefits over litigation
    • Negotiated settlement
    • Mediation
    • Arbitration
    • Dispute review board

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