The construction industry has a duty of care towards its clients. Anyone working on building projects – whether the lead architect or a construction site manager – is responsible for ensuring that work is completed safely and to a high professional standard. Things can go wrong, but if a duty of care has been breached due to negligence on the part of a construction industry professional, then you could be entitled to make a claim for compensation.
What is professional negligence and when does it occur?
Professional negligence can occur in the construction industry when a qualified, certified or skilled individual or organisation has breached their duty of care towards a client. A breach of care can involve a professional ignoring health and safety laws, defective structural calculations, or failing to carry out work to the standard required. Professional negligence in the construction industry may be seen in the initial design stage of a building project, right through to completion.
If a client suffers injuries, damages or financial loss as a direct result of professional’s negligence, they may be within their rights to pursue a claim for damages against the professional concerned. For this claim to be successful, there are four elements that must be proven:
- That a professional in the construction industry had a duty of care towards their client
- That the professional breached that duty of care
- That the client suffered damages or financial loss
- That those damages were the direct result and consequence of negligence on the part of the professional
Cases of Negligence In The Construction Industry
The construction industry has many different professionals working within it, all of whom could be held accountable for negligence. These include architects, surveyors and engineers. Cases of professional negligence in the construction industry can be difficult to prove, and that’s largely down to the complexity of a building project. The main issue faced by a legal team is deciding who to pursue a claim against, as it’s not often clear who’s directly responsible when something goes wrong.
Where a property owner later discovers that the building work undertaken is structurally unsafe it may be that the building company has since dissolved, become insolvent or is simply not a viable option to pursue. You may be able to go beyond the contract and turn to the professionals appointed to advise, provide drawings and oversee the build project in cases where the professional has been negligent. You would have to demonstrate the professional’s negligence attributed to the property being deemed unsafe and/or defective requiring the remedial works complained of.
For instance, has the structural engineer miscalculated and therefore not advised correctly in relation to the supports and steel work required. This may present an opportunity to go beyond the contractual relationship with the builder and pursue the applicable professional for negligence in relation to the damages that are a direct consequence of their particular negligence.
Remedial costs concerning build projects can be extremely costly and the owner may not have the ability to cover the additional and unanticipated costs to do so. Therefore, it will be a case of gathering evidence as to the likely cause and looking at all potential options and any parties in which to recover the associated costs.
For this reason, it’s essential that you seek expert legal advice before attempting to make a professional negligence claim against a construction industry professional.
Incidents of professional negligence in the construction industry should always be taken seriously, but it’s important that you seek professional advice from skilled lawyers before pursuing a claim.
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