What Are Engineer Negligence Claims?
In the world of real estate development, construction projects call for a collaborative effort by various professionals from numerous fields. Engineers, in particular, play a critical role in creating a project's design and estimating its costs. Some senior engineers may even have additional duties, such as machinery procurement, risk management support, and construction site supervision. With a multitude of tasks to juggle, errors may sometimes occur.
Generally, an engineer involved in a project can be held liable for negligence if: (1) the issue in question can be attributed to an error committed by the engineer, and (2) the engineer had a contractual obligation to prevent the issue from arising. Common examples of engineer negligence include:
As construction professionals, engineers must comply with relevant building codes, permits, and zoning laws in their jurisdiction. Adhering to these regulations helps to ensure that engineers utilize their knowledge, experience, and expertise judiciously to prevent harm to others, including worksite employees, neighboring residents, passersby, and future occupants of the project. Failing to meet these standards could make engineers liable—even when no injuries occur.
Breaches of Contract
As contractors, engineers are expected to provide services that align with the expectations outlined in their contract agreement. If an engineer cannot complete a task as specified in the agreement and within the stipulated timeframe, this may lead to significant project delays, inferior quality standards, and diminished returns on investments for developers. In cases where project engineers fail to fulfill their contracts, developers can either negotiate or seek retribution through a breach of contract lawsuit.
Engineer negligence often arises when a structure is deemed unsafe for occupancy. For example, a plumbing contractor may discover that parts of a new building's ground floor are uneven (and thus hazardous) due to inadequate support. Structural weaknesses and design flaws like these may take several months post-construction to surface, but can still provide grounds for developers to pursue legal action against the project's engineer.
Construction disputes can manifest in various forms and span beyond a single industry or aspect of a real estate project. Unfortunately for developers, even minor design errors by the project's engineer can develop into costly, intricate construction claims if not resolved promptly. Given the significant resources and time at stake, it's in the best interest of both contractors and developers to seek expert legal counsel and representation as early as possible.
Creating Positive Outcomes
WHAT TO DO IF YOU EXPERIENCE ENGINEER NEGLIGENCE
Insurance companies may deny coverage for engineer negligence for several reasons. Insurance Companies engage in bad faith insurance practices by underpaying or denying valid claims, hoping to increase their profits at the expense of their policyholders. Common reasons for denying an engingeer negligence claim include:
- The property is underinsured
- Insufficient evidence to support payments
- Lack of documentation provided
- Sources of water damage not covered (e.g., sewage backups, flooding)
- Illegal activity or fraud
- Unpermitted work on the property
- Pre-existing damage or wear and tear
- Policy exclusions limiting coverage
- Unpaid policy premiums
Engineer negligence claims are often undervalued by the insurance company. Insurance companies and adjusters are not interested in paying out settlements timely and properly. The insurance company wants to keep payouts low and premiums high to improve its profit margin.
Signs your claim may have been underpaid:
- Insurance Company’s Estimate Seems Too Low
If you feel that the estimate is too low, trust your gut and intuition. More often than not, if you suspect the estimate is too low, then it probably is.
- Adjuster Rushed the Property Inspection
By law, the adjuster must inspect your damaged property and issue a damage estimate within 60 days of the loss. Many adjusters rush through the inspection and do not do a thorough investigation, thereby creating an estimate of repairs cost that is artificially low. This is called a low-ball estimate. Whether the adjuster is careless or has bad faith intentions, it can leave you with a lower settlement offer than you need.
- Damage Was Overlooked or Not Accounted For
Review the insurance estimate and the adjuster documents carefully to ensure all damage and repair costs are identified. If damage has been overlooked or not accounted for in the estimate or documents, you need to take action. Failure to act could result in the underpayment of your claim.
- Part of Your Claim Was Denied
If any part of your claim was denied, then your claim may be undervalued. Often the insurance company will deny part of your claim to save money. If your property damage claim has been partially denied, it’s not the end of the claim. The claim can be reopened.
- Offered the Actual Cash Value Instead of Replacement Costs
Your insurance company may also offer to pay the actual cash value instead of the full cost required to replace or repair the property. Depending on your claim and your insurance policy, the insurance company may be underpaying your claim intentionally to save money.
- Wear & Tear or Old Damages
If your insurance company states that the damages are old or are from wear and tear, this may be a sign they are trying to underpay the repairs. If the insurance company did not ask you to make repairs to your property prior to issuing or renewing the insurance policy, and after a claim states damages are from wear and tear or are old damages, it’s assigned there intentionally trying to underpay your claim.
- Told You Do Not Need an Attorney or a Public Adjuster
If you are told you don’t need an attorney or a public adjuster on your claim, then you should call one and ask for a free claims review. Most attorneys or public adjusters will perform a free claim review to sure you are being treated properly under your insurance policy.
- Advised their there is a Lack of Coverage or a Gap in Coverage
Another sign that your insurance company has undervalued your property damage claim is when you have been advised about a lack of coverage or a gap in coverage under your insurance policy. If your insurance company says there is no coverage for certain types of damages or losses, then you should always get a second opinion.
Navigating the complexities of engineer negligence claims can be overwhelming. Insurance companies have extensive resources at their disposal, giving them the advantage in negotiations. By retaining an experienced insurance claim attorney, you can ensure that you receive the benefits and compensation you're entitled to under your policy. Our insurance lawyers can help you by:
- Providing a free claims evaluation
- Explaining your legal rights as a policyholder
- Assessing the coverages available under your policy
- Investigating the source of damage
- Hiring experts for unbiased assessments of your damages
- Determining the value of your claim
- Handling communications with your insurance company
- Negotiating with your insurance company
- Filing complaints with the Florida Department of Insurance
- Prosecuting your insurance company in a court of law
- Fighting for a fair settlement on your behalf
CONTACT MURRAY LAW GROUP TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
Reach out to our office today to speak with one of our expert engineer negligence claim attorneys. The attorney will provide a free assessment of what your claim is worth quickly and effectively. Contact Murray Law Group by calling 1-855-269-4317 today for a free consultation with an experienced Florida engineer negligence claim attorney.