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Land Surveyor Mistakes are Almost Always Costly

Homeowners, business owners, city planners, architects, engineers, and contractors all rely on the findings of land surveyors when undertaking almost any type of construction or building project or when buying and selling property. When land surveyors make mistakes, even seemingly minor miscalculations can result in serious and expensive problems for all parties involved. A ten foot discrepancy in placement of a boundary line can cost tens of thousands of dollars to fix.

Often survey maps appear to be accurate, especially to the untrained eye, but may contain latent defects or mask negligent actions on the part of the surveyor. Some examples of negligence and other common mistakes made by land surveyors include:

  • Miscalculating where the property lines should be
  • Miscalculations caused by equipment malfunction or user errors
  • Failure to properly account for easements
  • Failure to compare recorded map records with title commitments
  • Erroneously placed monuments that conflict with actual occupation
  • Errors in retracing boundary lines

Land surveyors are licensed professionals, which generally means they are liable for damages caused by their negligence according to the same general rules as other professionals. In the past, land surveyors often avoided liability because they were not in privity of contract with the person who suffered damage because of the negligence. This is because a land survey commissioned by an original owner may be relied on by subsequent owners, builders, and others who never had a contractual relationship with the surveyor.

Today, California and most states base professional liability on breach of duty rather than breach of contract. As explained by the court in Huber et al v. Moore et al, 65 Cal.App.3rd 278 (1977), “whether or not liability to third persons exist[s] involves the balancing of various factors, among which are the extent to which the transaction was intended to affect the plaintiff, the foreseeability of harm to him, the degree of certainty that the plaintiff suffered injury, the closeness of the connection between the defendant’s conduct and the injury suffered, the moral blame attached to the defendant’s conduct, and the policy of preventing future harm.”

Land Surveyor Mistakes Expert Witness

If you have discovered a land surveyor’s error regarding property that you own or a mistake that effects a building project you are working on, and need an expert to advise you or appear as a witness, contact Engineering Expert Witnesses for a free initial consultation. Pierre Handl, P.E. evaluates construction issues in California and nationwide to identify their cause and determine whether professional negligence may have led to the problem.

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