To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org, George Hakim <GEOHAK(--nospam--at)aol.com>, Roger Turk <73527.1356(--nospam--at)compuserve.com>
Subject: Re: Can we take "liability" out of our d
From: Roger Turk <73527.1356(--nospam--at)compuserve.com>
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 17:37:51 -0500
George Hakim wrote:
>>Can we take "liability" out of our dictionary?<<
No, but we should take it out of our vocabulary if we don't use the word with
its proper (legal) meaning.
>>Black's Law Dictionary states:
"LIABLE" is defined as follows:
Bound or obliged by law; responsible; chargeable; answerable; compellable
to mabe (sic.) restitution or compensation.<<
I think that this definition is clear enough. When a person is "liable" for
something, they are, "bound and obligated by law ... to make restitution or
compensation." A person is "bound by law" when they are found "liable" by a
court, *or*, when they admit to being at fault/liable for something. Saying,
"I am liable for my structural designs," admits guilt for whatever and
therefore you are "obligated to make restitution."
>> "LIABILITY" is defined as follows:
The word is a broad legal term. It has been referred to as of the most
comprehensive significance, including almost every character of hazard,
responsibility, absolute, contingent, or likely. Also defined to mean the
character of debts and obligations; condition of being actually or
potentially subject to an obligation; condition for being actually
responsible for possible or actual loss; duty to pay money.<<
The first sentence states that it is a "legal term," and as Charles Greenlaw
so eloquently stated in the past, we should be careful about using "legal
terms" improperly. I think that the second sentence of this definition is
telling of the importance of the word, "It has been referred to as of the
most comprehensive significance ... ," and therefore inferring that extreme
care must be used in using the term. We can be accused of having "liability"
[... potentially subject ... , ... responsible for possible ... loss ...] or
admit to having liability, which saves the other side a lot of time and money.
How much better off would our profession be if we worried more about our
*responsibility*, i.e., to do the best job in the best way we know how, than
we worry about ways to avoid "liability."
A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural) and NOT a lawyer