Can an Engineering firm be held liable in negligence despite provisions in a state law which allegedly gives design professionals immunity? That was the issue confronted recently by the Supreme Court in the state of Washington in a case entitled Larry Michaels vs. CH2M Hill.
The Washington court analysed its state Industrial Insurance Act, which is similar to North Carolina’s Workers’ Compensation Act. These acts are often described as “grand compromises” between workers and their employers. Injured workers are given a fast, no-fault compensation system for injuries in the workplace. Employers, in turn, are given immunity from civil suits. The workers get speed and certainty, while the employers are required to pay less than they would be in a lawsuit...
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