Avoiding Liability Through Technology

 OP CIVILBy Dr. Sergey Sundukovskiy 

Litigation is an ever-present threat for construction firms and businesses. All the hiccups that can occur during a complex construction project — such as delays, accidents, miscommunications, or unkept promises — put a contractor at risk from lawsuits filed by unhappy stakeholders.

Protecting yourself from litigation is time-consuming. Litigation-proofing your construction business involves building a solid foundation of supporting data that meticulously documents the events, milestones and mishaps of a project. This can involve hundreds or thousands of emails, orders, schedules, plans, and photographs.  

Managing this overwhelming amount of data presents a two-fold challenge: finding the time to deal with it and finding the data when needed.

With 70 percent of firms still having trouble recruiting skilled craft labor, construction supervisors continue to be asked to do more with less. With their attention spread so thin juggling multiple projects, traditional pen-and-paper record keeping is far too time-consuming to be feasible.

Even electronic record keeping can be self-defeating if the data is kept in an unorganized array of laptops and ancient desktop computers, locked in trailers or vehicles or even lost in the shuffle. Evidence can’t protect your company if it can’t be found.


Advances in cloud-based reporting software offer hope. By properly organizing and documenting the myriad data points generated during a project, shielding your construction company from legal liability can be made much easier.

These cloud-based software solutions allow data to be managed more quickly than traditional methods. From workplace safety issues to weather delays to change orders, documenting and curating the flood of data generated on a jobsite on a daily basis is easier than ever.

Storing information in a centralized database on the cloud that is accessible through smartphones or other devices, construction management tools give project managers the means to tabulate infractions and keep track of recurring safety issues. Superintendents and foremen can document close calls, violations and whether safety briefings occur easily using the speech-to-text capabilities of construction management apps. Reports and observations can be generated while walking a jobsite.

Weather Delays

One common source of litigation claims is increased costs because of weather-related delays. By using a construction management app that automatically captures and records weather conditions, companies can access weather histories with the push of a button. Legal teams can quickly run through the records and address any claims in a swift and accurate manner.


By recording and documenting worksite conditions through daily notes and photos directly uploaded to a project file, a company can create evidentiary proof that it followed all applicable safety regulations. For example, photos and other supporting evidence can prove that hazardous materials were handled and stored safely on the jobsite, refuting any claims to the contrary.

Construction superintendents can also use the construction management apps to upload photos documenting safety issues and violations on the jobsite as well as the steps taken to remediate them. Documenting activities related to Job Hazard Analysis or Job Safety Analysis can provide an additional buffer against litigation.


Miscommunication among stakeholders, project managers, contractors and subcontractors can lead to confusion and liability. Cloud-based construction monitoring software provides a better means of sharing and communicating about blueprints, contracts and other legal documents.

Using the software, a superintendent can quickly communicate the need for changes or corrections to a stakeholder, removing the potential of a legal claim that the project was not completed as promised. Apps with robust automated notification capabilities can ensure immediate action on critical issues. Real-time information about any incidents, risks or pending weather conditions can automatically be communicated to project stakeholders through texting and emailing them updates and photographs.

Proactive communication prevents misunderstandings. By learning of weather delays, safety issues, and general delays as they occur, stakeholders have a clear understanding of progress.

Cloud-based software solutions allow companies to manage the voluminous data generated each day on the jobsite thoroughly and quickly. By properly organizing and documenting the data, companies can protect themselves from legal liability during and after the lifecycle of a project.

Dr. Sergey Sundukovskiy is co-founder and chief technology and product officer for Raken, based in San Diego.

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