Ethical, Legal and Professional Responsibilities of Engineers to Owners and Contractors

by Lawrence I. Erdos, Supreme Court of California, Los Angeles, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Engineering Practice


Engineers are under legal, professional, ethical and moral duties to protect owners, contractors and third parties, including the general public against injuries and deaths and economic losses. These duties arise out of contracts entered into by the Engineer, or out of common or statutory law. Should an Engineer breach any duty to one to whom a duty is owed, the Engineer may face liability as to the injured party. Against a claim of liability, the Engineer may assert defences to avoid or at least minimize the magnitude of his liability. Some of the duties owed by the Engineer may not be a legal duty, but rather a professional, ethical or moral duty, which may not be cognizable by law, and for which the Engineer may not suffer monetary liability, but for which the Engineer may nonetheless be criticized. The issues of duties, liabilities and defences are made complex by the varying laws of the different jurisdictions. To avoid liability, or at least to minimize the adverse effects of such liability, Engineers should seek the advice of competant legal counsel at the earliest possible time.

Subject Headings: Liability | Ethics | Legal affairs | Professional development | Owners | Contractors and subcontractors | Accidents | Economic factors

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