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Thread: Am I Liable

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Milan Michigan
    Posts
    1,691

    Default Am I Liable

    I built a concrete and steel balcany that has went through 3 winters and its starting to rust through the galvanize B deck as well as some of the structural steel and the customer thinks I should warrante it. The decking was the only thing galvanized.

    I'm was not the person responsible for the painting nor am I the person who decides what kind of deicing agent that they use.

    If its rusting away already that tells me there salting the heck out of it along with their painter not using the proper paint.

    And now I have to defend my self.

  2. #2

    Default Am I Liable

    Who's design was it? Was galvanizing the structural steel an option? But the important part is its not your responsibility to properly maintain the customers balcony unless a service contract was included that's my opinion.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    388

    Default

    No, but... you may have a headache. How valuable a customer is this (future work) and do you want him as a future customer and can you afford to have him as a customer. Has any of your work failed? Liable, I'd say morally no. Not after that length of time and given that you didn't paint it. If he'd wanted rust free he should have specified stainless at a much higher price of course.---Meltedmetal

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Milan Michigan
    Posts
    1,691

    Default

    Unfortunately its the nature of the beast, Salt and aluminum, salt and steel, salt and yes even electro plated galvanized metal deck.

    Salt always wins and I finished this project almost 4 years ago.

    Heres the deal, The thickness of galvanize is based on the thickness of the steel, The thicker the steel the thicker the coating is going to be on the steel.
    Or at least thats what I have been told by the people that galvanize my structural steel.

    I dont see where I was at fault, I said we could galvanize everything but informed them that the project would be a 1/3rd more, However that still does'nt help with the fact that galvanized B decking comes pre galvanized and you get what you get when you order it, Maybe on my next job I should consider using galvanized sea wall for decking.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Location
    North Central Indiana
    Posts
    782

    Default

    I would think his attorney would tell them to forget it, if it wasn't in the contract you were to use galvanized rust proof steel on everything I don't see how you could be held liable for the project's untreated steel rusting, stopping rust would be the paint's job......

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Milan Michigan
    Posts
    1,691

    Default

    The galvanized metal deck has also rusted through but one again the coating on the deck is in relation to the thickness of the base metal before electro plate galvanize.

  7. #7

    Default Am I Liable

    It's not your fault it's rusting, it's mother natures fault! If someone falls because of a broken weld, you can be liable!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Posts
    303

    Default

    Have you contacted your material provider? That would be my first reaction. If the provider is willing to stand behind their product then your butt is covered, except for the cost of your labor and that will be something to negotiate with the provider.

    The upside of getting the provider involved is they have the legal expertise you need. They have to defend their products daily and have all the arguments.

    It also gives your customer someone to go after with much deeper pockets than yours.

    I am in the middle of a minor skirmish with my galvanizer at this point. They have the arguments down pat but we both understand it is not unlike buying a used car, arguments are negotiations.

  9. #9

    Default

    Not being more than a hobby welder I can not comment on the welding aspects of this situation. However having been sued in the past in a product liability case I can tell you that Mikeswelding's advice while it might have sounded snarky is spot on.
    What I learned from being sued is this-and it is what most people myself included do not know. Under 'tort law' which is the civil law most states follow is the FRENCH court model- where you are automatically guilty and have to prove your innocence vs ENGLISH law that we use for criminal law. So if something fails it is assumed defective and YOU have to prove it was not.
    The fact stated about some vs all galvanizing in a court room would show prior knowledge of a potential problem (aka defect) and it was not addressed. What would typically happen is the jury would rule in the favor of the plantiff- if they believed you wanted it galvanized-but were over ruled both of you would be found guilty and in my state they would also determine percentage of responsibility. So if the person over ruling you had more responsibility for the project they would be assigned a higher percentage of 'guilty' and pay more in the settlement but you will also pay something for your neglect and liability.
    Bottom line is -if it goes to court it will cost you something. That is the bad news- the good news is if you are insured most times they (insurance company thru their lawyer) will try to settle out of court, no one likes to go in front of a jury-too unpredictable. While you may prevail and be found not guilty in front of jury, most likely they will award something. Insurance company wants to control how much they pay out. Likewise the plaintiffs lawyer wants to know he is getting something for his client and settling out of court-prevents a jury from lowballing.
    So best of luck if it goes to court hopefully some kind of solution can be reached between all parties. You most definitely want to talk to a lawyer to help reduce your exposure for future jobs and develop a means to better protect yourself.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Central Idaho
    Posts
    203

    Default

    131RE is right about tort law. In fact, the word "tort" is French for "wrong or harm."

    With regard to lowering one's risk profile (and do not take this as legal advice), I always included wording on my invoices that stated explicitly that the work was done "as specified by the Buyer" or "in accordance with design specifications." Therefore, if you are not an engineer or architect by training, then under tort law it would be exceedingly difficult to be found negligent.

    You can go even further by disclaiming any warranty, express or implied, as to the suitability of the work.

    However, as always, check with an attorney for the best "disclaimer" language.

    Also, as 131RE stated, any legal action is going to go in search of "deep pockets," and most small welding outfits I know would not fit that description.

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