Minimizing the Effects of Liability: Practical Tips From Firm Owners

July 1, 2000
  • We do all the permitting that we are supposed to do.
  • In our contracts, we line-item all the specifics about what we are going to do.
  • We hear horror stories: digging in deep trenches with no trench boxes, for example. The benefit of third generation is we know what the dangers are. If you don’t have that experience, then hire it.
  • Cross-training helps ensure that everyone is aware of all aspects of execution. We also try to do our work so that it will accommodate the contractor who’ll be following us.
  • We take a video of the job before we start so as to avoid the “you took down a 100-year-old tree” lawsuit. We take photos of everything on a daily basis—who and what they did. We document the cracked sidewalks, etc. before we start so we can’t be blamed.
  • Once we call the Dig Alert hotline, we call them every 10 days for an update so they come out and reflag the line. We always get the line foreman’s name each time in case they make an error. Recordkeeping and follow-up are critical so you don’t get assigned blame when someone else makes a mistake.
  • It takes more time and requires support in the office, but you can’t afford not to do it. Pay now or pay later. 

    Advice From: Dennis Rock, general manager, Dennis D. Rock Inc.; Mickey Morgan, office manager, Urban Contractors; Cyndi Wheatley, president, Tab Construction Inc.