Drones Impact the Design Professional’s Industry

How will the use of drones impact the design professional’s industry standard of standard of care?  Answer: It already is…  Consider the following:  The standard of care sets the maximum performance or quality level that a design professional can warrant or guarantee to a client.  The standard of care is an average of all professionals performing the same or similar services on similar projects in the same region at the same time.  If a client suffers a financial loss resulting from a design professional’s failure to meet the standard of care, the loss is insurable.

Back to drones… The standard of care generally begins with marketing and setting the service expectation of a potential client.  If your practice is already using drones, how are you “selling” the benefits of drone usage to potential clients?  Is your firm promoting really cool hi-resolution photos and making hints that other firms not using drones are less technical or capable?  Is your firm promoting that the use a drones as an important tool for construction evaluation and observation, final inspections, verification of as-built conditions, and monitoring for operation and maintenance?  If so, you may be setting a client expectation that the use of drones will increase the likelihood of a successful project and it may.  However, the use of drones is not yet the industry standard.  You could be in jeopardy if a client can demonstrate that the selection of your practice was predicated on cool photos and the impression of an improved project delivery.  A ruling in favor of the client will most likely be uninsurable because professional liability coverage responds only to damage resulting from a failure to meet and not exceed the industry standard of care.   

To read more, please see David A. Ericksen’s from Severson & Werson recent article.

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