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Re: Can we take "liability" out of our d

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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
Tucson, Arizona