It’s All in the Contract: Design Professionals

By Paul Whitt | March 21, 2016

23577005941_8cca77edd0_zWe’ve all been told to be careful what we ask for. And that is true. But for design professionals, it is also important to “be careful what you contract for.” Many design professional contracts contain standardized language that has been evaluated and addressed for many years, providing greater certainty as to the application of the contract language. However, sometimes owners or other parties want to use non-standardized contracts that do not have such a clear track record of application. In either event, there are many instances in which the design professional would be wise to consider seeking and/or requesting revisions to the contract language to provide the design professional with greater protection, and also more certainty as to potential insurance coverage for the risks being assumed under the contract.

Insurance Management Consultants, Inc. (“IMCI”) recently posted a very helpful article on this topic, entitled “Template of Reasonable Contract Clauses for Design Professionals.” This article can be found here.

Among the suggestions contained in this article include potential revisions for addressing indemnification clauses, limitation of liability clauses, and prevailing party attorney’s fees clauses in design professional contracts. As the author of this article explains, many times the design professional is asked to sign a contract with provisions obligating the design professional to certain liability for which the standard professional liability policy would not provide coverage. Therefore, it is very important for the design professional to pay close attention to these issues up front and ensure that they are not obligating themselves to contractual liability that would clearly not be covered by their professional liability policy. At a minimum, the design professional should at least be aware of potentially non-covered situations before they enter into the agreement.

Lewis Thomason construction law attorneys assist design professionals, owners and contractors in reviewing, revising and/or negotiating project contracts. If you have any questions concerning potential contract language, or need assistance in reviewing and/or negotiating contract language for a project, you can contact one of the construction lawyers at Lewis Thomason. But in any event, design professionals should make sure that they are paying attention to this issue, and the article linked in this post will highlight some of the more problematic areas for design professionals.

Photo: Government of Alberta

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