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Liability Issue

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The engineer neighbor has absolutely no liability at all until a complaint is 
filed against him/her AND,

1.    A court determines the engineer is liable for something, or,

2.    The engineer admits that he/she is liable for something.

In the latter case, the engineer should get out his/her checkbook when he/she 
admits liability (guilt).

The engineer neighbor has no conflict of interest unless he/she had been 
retained by the developer concerning the problem or had done the structural 
design on the townhouse development.

At some point in time, the neighbor with the problem is going to have to hire 
an expert.  The extent of free neighborly advice would depend on how 
comfortable the engineer neighbor is in giving it.  If we saw a neighbor 
constructing something obviously unsafe, would it not be our responsibility 
to alert the neighbor about the possible problem?  And if we didn't, wouldn't 
we be potentially liable for not alerting him/her as we have specialized 
knowledge to be able to recognize such a problem?  Isn't our responsibility to 
protect the public, not protect the public only if hired to do so?

If we had a physician as a neighbor, and while chatting over the fence, the 
doctor spotted what appeared to him to be a melanoma on our arm, wouldn't 
we want him/her to tell us?

A. Roger Turk, P.E.(Structural)
Tucson, Arizona

Pedro R. Muñoz wrote:

. > The owner of a townhouse has a water problem into the
. > basement of the house, and is trying to resolve it with
. > the builder. The neighbor next door who bought his
. > townhouse from the same builder is a civil/structural
. > engineer. Is there any conflict of interest or liability
. > issues involved, in the event that the civil/structural
. > engineer look at his neighbor problem and advise the
. > owner with the water problem. How much the
. > civil/structural engineer should or should not get
. > involved with the problem, but Advise his neighbor to
. > engage another engineer.
. > Any comments and Suggestions are appreciated.
. > Pedro R. Muñoz, Ph.D., P.E.
. > PRM Engineering
. > PRMEng(--nospam--at)att.net