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Structural engineers carry big risk

A study by the DPIC Companies, a major provider of professional liability insurance for consulting engineers based...


A study by the DPIC Companies, a major provider of professional liability insurance for consulting engineers based in California, has found that structural engineers working on residential condominiums present a situation which is “about as risky as it gets” in terms of construction liability. Overall, structural engineers have the highest risk for design professionals according to the study which analyzed claims from 1996 to 2000.
Among the 8,687 professional liability claims, 990 were for structural engineers, accounting for 16% of claims paid out by the company, while earning only 6.7% of the fees.
Civil engineers actually accounted for more claims — 21.%% — in dollar terms, but they earned 29% of fees earned, which made them a lower than average risk.
Among the specific structural engineers’ claims, walls were involved in 15% of claims dollars. Foundations and footings accounted for 11% of claims dollars, beams and joists accounted for 9%, and roofs accounted for 10%.
Property damage was the most common type of damage involved in structural engineers’ claims,. The owner/client sued in 62% of claims, followed by third parties (25%) and contractors/subcontractors (11%).