Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering Science

Document Type



Liability is an important topic to all practicing professionals—including practicing engineers. However, the topic of liability does not receive the necessary attention required relative to other professions. Further, engineers that desire to learn more about liability in relation to their practice do not have many university options within an engineering curriculum or from outside materials available to a non-legally trained engineer. The goal of the study is to provide a comprehensive overview of liability directed towards an intelligent practicing engineer, while avoiding unnecessary over-simplification of the material. This study initially provides an in depth survey of the legal standard of care for a structural engineer – i.e. a major factor in determining whether liability is established in a case involving engineering fault. Next, the study reviews the extent to which an engineer can be personally liable if conduct giving rise to liability is established. This study examines the personal liability of an engineer in several different forms of practice, as well as reviewing the implications (or lack thereof) for sealing or failing to properly seal plans. Finally, this study provides an in-depth examination of a common technique used to manage risk through contract terms and conditions. This technique is negotiating a clause into the service agreement which limits liability. Courts will generally enforce these limitation of liability clauses, but there are many circumstances in which they will be deemed void.



Committee Chair

Okeil, Ayman