Negligence and the Land Surveyor: Three Things to Remember
- “Everybody is doing it” – is not a valid defense against a charge of Negligence.
As stated in the Oregon decision Voelz v. Board of Engineering: 586 P.2d 807 (1978):
"Petitioner argues that many of the practices relied upon by the Board as demonstrating gross negligence are common practice in the field.
Although petitioner has presented surveys by other surveyors which appear to have omissions similar to his own, it is not at all clear that the frequency of the omissions is similar to his own.
The Board in several instances noted that a single omission would not constitute gross negligence, but the number found in petitioner's work impelled them to the conclusion of gross negligence …"
- Following minimum ‘Standards of Practice’ is not a shield against a finding of Negligence or Gross Negligence, but failing to follow them can be significant evidence of Negligence.
The Tennessee decision Whitelaw v. Brooks: 138 S.W.3d 890 (2003) describes the failure of surveyor ‘Smith’ (NOT his real name) to follow basic surveying practices:
"SMITH, in derogation of the rules promulgated by the Tennessee State Board of Examiners for Land Surveyors,
…failed to create his survey using the latest recorded deed to the property and instead …
…utilized a tax map provided by the Tax Assessor's office. SMITH’S survey resulted in an encroachment on Whitelaw's remaining parcel of land."
- Honesty and Integrity are still critical.
As emphasized in Hyland v. Ponzio: 159 N.J. Super. 233 (1978):
"Licenses to practice professional engineering or professional land surveying are required as a matter of public policy of this State "[i]n order to safeguard life, health and property, and promote the public welfare *
Like the profession of engineering, we regard that of land surveying as “no ordinary trade or calling.”
It involves not only skill and knowledge, but certainly honesty, integrity and reliability.
The products of land surveyors are cornerstones of titles and are relied upon by real estate purchasers, lenders and title insurers."