Liability of State Departments of Transportation for Design Errors

Transportation departments have demonstrated an interest in protecting their agencies from liability for design errors and omissions in infrastructure projects and defective safety appliances and products. This study demonstrates that litigation has defined the parameters of a transportation department’s liability for design errors or omissions. State tort- and sovereign-immunity statutes may shield an agency from liability. If the state has waived its immunity for certain claims, however, the transportation department may still have immunity when it has exercised discretion in the planning or design phase of a project. When a government contractor is acting as an agent of the transportation agency, the contractor may also have a claim. If a contractor is at fault, the agency may be able to recoup any related losses incurred from the contractor. Transportation departments generally require government contractors to maintain insurance to cover costs and damages resulting from claims due to defective planning, design, and construction. The digest covers liability insurance for design errors and omissions. It also examines public construction law, professional liability, and product warranties. A survey was sent to all 50 U.S. state departments of transportation (DOT) and the District of Columbia. The survey requested the state to provide information on its experience with and policies and practices on claims for design errors and omissions. Over one-half of the state DOTs responded to the survey, and many offered examples of related standard contract and insurance provisions and forms. A significant number of those who responded to the survey indicated that within the past 5 years, claims had been brought against them or their contractors for allegedly defective planning or design. Only a few had been held liable, however.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: Appendices;
  • Pagination: 61p
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01625795
  • Record Type: Publication
  • ISBN: 9780309446143
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NCHRP Project 20-06
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Feb 10 2017 1:20PM