On behalf of Alan Bernstein of Bernstein & Feldman, P.A. posted in Construction on Wednesday, October 22, 2014.
A number of states have begun requiring certificates of merit before someone can file suit against a design professional, and Maryland is one of them. Professional engineers often carry malpractice insurance due to the amount of liability they face for allegations of breaches of contract, property damage and personal injury or wrongful death due to negligence or malpractice on their part. As a result, engineers are often targeted by individuals seeking relief for alleged harm.
In some cases, the connection to an engineer for damage or injury is tenuous at best. The goal of a certificate of merit is to verify that a professional engineer may well have been part of the reason that someone or something suffered harm. Without a certificate of merit, individuals may not file suit for malpractice.
The result of
certificate of merit laws is that a plaintiff must have a third party design professional look over its claim. If the claim appears to have merit, a certificate is awarded. In addition to rooting out claims without basis, these certificates also provide those facing legal claims to determine if they should settle or fight the charges being brought against them.
Construction disputes can lead to a variety of problems for the parties involved, and these disputes can be costly and time consuming. If at all possible, these arguments should be settled quickly and out of court to prevent them from becoming long and drawn out. A lawyer may be able to help speed up the process of settling an argument, and if it does end up in court, a lawyer could assist the client in obtaining a favorable outcome.
Source: National Society of Professional Engineers, "Certificate of Merit ", October 21, 2014