Dear Abby Advice for Engineers– too good not to share!

A recent column in the ENR shares a plethora of good advice for structural engineers–and any design professional–who wants to avoid a lengthy, ugly construction claim lawsuit.  Among the good gems in the article:
  • “E-mails can haunt. ‘Any e-mail you write can be used against you. Be careful—don’t write anything you don’t want to show up on the front page of your local newspaper.’” [I always say: imagine having to explain what you wrote to your elderly grandmother.].
  • “A tip: Mediate, mediate, mediate: This is the chance to control the outcome. In arbitration or in front of a jury, others control the outcome.” [This is very true. Early mediation can sometimes be productive, but other times some discovery is necessary first. Each case is different, so discuss when to mediate with your lawyer.]
  • “Be careful what you say. Example: If you call the contractor ‘an asshole,’ you are not covered by your insurance; if, as the observer of the process, you call the contractor incompetent, you are.”  [While I’m not nuanced in the acceptable derogatory language that may or may not be covered by your insurance policy, in general err on the side of caution. Think of your grandmother again when you decide what language you will use.]
  • “It’s not the size of the claims that hurts, it’s the time it takes to fight it—and the cost…Get your insurer’s assistance during the project to try to resolves issues as they arise.” [Very good advice.  Often, free claims prevention/loss prevention services are covered under your errors & omissions insurance policy.]  
haunted house
Have you been haunted by the ghosts of emails you’ve written?


 Questions?  Thoughts? Comments?  Share below.

Photo (c) Moon Stars Paper blog. 


2 thoughts on “Dear Abby Advice for Engineers– too good not to share!

  1. stark says:

    Ms. Dewey Brumback . . . Thanks for the good post. I’m curious about the idea that calling a project participant a name might jeopardize coverage. Is that idea made “explicit” in policy language, or does it arise somewhere else? No need to respond if the answer is not immediately available. Thanks again for the post. . . . JS

    • Melissa Dewey Brumback says:

      Thanks for the comment. I checked out your blog and it looks great– I’ll be adding it to my blog roll.

      Re the calling names issue– that was what the ENR editor reported a panelist saying. I myself am not aware of any explicit policy language, except there may be language excluding defamation and/or tortious interference with a contract, and, of course, there is usually a disclaimer for any intentional acts. To the extent that the claim brought falls under one of those, there may not be coverage.

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