As with any profession, a contract for engineering services specifies the terms of agreements, services to be exchanged, deadlines, and estimated costs. It also outlines the specific duties of the project's engineering firm.1 However, as a project progresses, its scope—and thus the engineering firm's duties—can expand. As an engineer, it's important to be aware that taking on duties outside those outlined in your contract may increase your liability.2 To understand how, consider the real-life scenario described below.
Requests for professional engineering services by a party already in litigation are not unusual and can present unique challenges. The parties embroiled in litigation are more likely to be emotional, frustrated, upset and/or defensive about the subject project, and pursuing a rational resolution may be clouded by the parties' intransigent positions. The engineer already has some indication that the parties may be difficult to work with, or are generally litigious, so taking precautions to reduce risk is important.