When a design firm sets out to market its professional services, the information it places on its website may put it at unintentional legal risk. Design professionals and firms have a standard duty of care to prevent property damage or harm to building occupants. Documentation is so essential to a firm meeting its expectations. When a website obscures the truth of a professional’s capabilities, the result could be a lawsuit. Here are two ways that a website’s information could present a risk area for design professionals:
Services: A firm should be honest in its portrayal of the services it provides. If the firm doesn’t have experience in a particular area, but it claims such experience on its website, it could be liable if its work leads to a defective element or structural failure. For design-build firms, this responsibility could extend to the chosen site for a project. If a firm decides on an unsound site or one that has features they are unfamiliar with, these factors can lead to a structural failure or unnecessary damage. The design firm may be liable for these damages.
Portfolio: The partners and professionals serving the firm want to include all the previous work they were involved in as either part of their portfolio or CV. If some of this work occurred during their employment at another firm, they may not be able to present that work without the consent of the owners of the firm where the work occurred. Moreover, a design professional would have to attribute the others who worked on the project, to demonstrate the scope of their contribution. Presenting work without attribution or consent could constitute a copyright infringement. Depending on the clients involved, some projects may require nondisclosure agreements (NDAs) or contracts that the details of the project should remain confidential for a defined period.
Addressing mistakes and errors
Construction projects are so complicated that owners, subcontractors and other parties affected by this construction could claim damages if errors are made in a project. Errors in design could mean a more costly process for the owners and an impact on other parties’ work. Protect your livelihood by avoiding unnecessary litigation.