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On April 19, 2023, GOT lawyers Bill Thomas, Hayley Hughes and Najla Hasic presented a full day seminar on Managing Engineering Liability and Risk in Missouri. In their presentation, they began the day addressing the general topic of “Managing Risk in the Practice of Engineering,” which included a discussion about emerging trends in the industry and how risk continues to evolve. They offered suggestions on how to identify and address risk on a project level basis.

The speakers next explored in detail the topic of “Understanding How Contracts Can Shift, Reduce or Increase Risk.” Since the design professional’s contract is the basis of their work scope and responsibilities it is an appropriate place to start when identifying and attempting as best as possible to reduce, shift or eliminate those risks. They offered a number of practical suggestions on how, through effective contract negotiation, parties can effectively manage project risk commensurate with fees.

The seminar then dove into the complex topic of statutes and regulations and how design professionals have to struggle with “Complying with Missouri Laws and Regulations Relating to the Practice of Engineering.” A firm understanding of the practice act and regulations is essential for any practitioner, as too many times issues arise and someone’s professional license could be at risk. Further, litigants will often use the practice act and regulations as a basis for liability claims, and so, practitioners need to be following the rules or be prepared to defend themselves.

Finally, with all of that as context, the firm lawyers discussed the “Law of Engineering Malpractice,” with a discussion about the origin of duty and a professional’s standard of care. The topic explored the many ways that design professionals get brought into lawsuits and many practical pointers on how to practice with an eye toward reducing, eliminating or avoiding claims.

Key take aways from the talk were keeping good lines of communication with design professional clients. That is one of the main ways to avoid or reduce claims, because, as the presenters point out, nearly 80% of all claims will come from the design professional’s client.

If you have any questions about risk management or design professional contract review issues, please reach out! We would love to discuss your issue and help you craft real and practical solutions to any issues you are facing.

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