Avoiding construction lawsuits as a designer, a lawsuit or a grievance is a professional risk for a designer. However, a few easy actions can reduce the risk. When a lawsuit or grievance cannot be avoided, the same procedures might be used to eliminate or reduce professional liability.
1. Maintain open lines of communication.
Let your clients know they are your top priority by keeping them up to date on all key project advancements and responding to client messages promptly (within 24 hours).
Maintain well-organized records of all critical communications with clients, whether copies of letters and emails or dated notes of phone calls.
A client who thinks they can contact you and that you are committed to their project is less likely to file a lawsuit or grievance, even if a problem emerges.
However, if a lawsuit or grievance is filed, thorough and accurate records of your conversations with the complaining client are critical to any defense.
2. Avoid setting unrealistic expectations.
Try not to shield your clients from bad news. Suppose any hurdles, expected or unforeseen, develop between the start of a project and its conclusion. In that case, your client will rely on you to notify him or her promptly, to provide a thorough explanation, and to provide an honest assessment of the risks and benefits of various strategies for advancement.
The client may be disappointed to learn of the impediment, but not as disappointed as the client who advances unaware, only to wonder later why you did not inform him or her sooner.
3. Make difficult decisions for the client.
Clients, once again, rely on design professionals to deliver a complete and accurate assessment of a project’s risks and advantages; however, the client must determine how to proceed in light of your evaluation.
Allow a client to say, “it’s up to you,” since if your decision does not produce the desired or expected result, the client may hold you accountable.
A client who is given the authority to control the project (with your guidance) is less likely to blame you if things do not go as planned.