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Engineers are not exempt from professional malpractice claims

Are you prepared for litigation against your professional activities? Although most people associate malpractice litigation with the medical field, the truth is that engineers, accountants, construction professionals and even marketers could suffer penalties thanks to civil litigation. Engineers, because of their role in designing and constructing public structures, are at a particularly high risk of professional litigation. Here's what you need to know about defending yourself against engineering professional malpractice.

What is negligence? First, you should know the elements that contribute to a claim of negligence in Ohio. Plaintiffs must prove that the engineer had a duty to protect the victim, that the duty was breached, that the victim suffered injury and that the injury was caused by the engineer's actions. Seems easy enough, right? Well, negligence is not always cut-and-dry, which is why we have civil litigation to protect victims who have been wronged by professional malpractice.

What standards apply to engineers? Those in the engineering and construction trades are required to act in a way that is characterized by care "normally possessed by members of the profession in good standing." You can see that is a somewhat subjective definition. As an engineer, you are required to make the same reasonable, sound decisions that others educated in your field would be expected to make.

Who can recover damages? Members of the public can collect financial compensation because of professional malpractice. Consider cases in which engineers and state agencies are penalized because they failed to design intersections with safety in mind. Many victims are killed every year because roads are poorly designed and do not adhere to proven safety standards. The same goes for buildings and other structures. Engineers need to make sure they are taking appropriate measures to protect themselves from civil litigation by adhering to ethical and legal requirements associated with the profession.

Source: ASSE, "Engineering Malpractice: Avoiding Liability through Education," Martin S. High & Paul E. Rossler, accessed Feb. 24, 2017

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