Tips for Engineers and Planners for Managing Risk in a World of Tort Liability Claims

May 01, 2012

Attendees gathered at KAI’s Portland, Oregon offices on April 12, 2012 to hear Brelend Gowan, the retired Deputy Chief Counsel for the California Department of Transportation (DOT), present on how to manage risk for tort liability claims. Mr. Gowan began his presentation by providing a brief overview of tort liability risks. He proceeded to focus on practical steps the audience—comprised mostly of transportation engineers and planners—could take to manage legal risks during their day-to-day work and decision-making processes. These steps include:

  • Know your traffic manuals. These manuals have been developed to protect public safety and accommodate land use in the area.

  • Thorough documentation. Leaving a thoughtful and complete paper trail serves as insurance if issues arise.

  • Cut vague, opinionated, and absolute language from reports. Clear and concise reports leave little room for misinterpretation.

Mr. Gowan ended his presentation with a discussion of how to prepare for and present the best case in the event a suit is filed.

About the Presenter

Mr. Gowan currently serves as Chair of the Policy and Legal Issues Subcommittee of the Transportation Research Board's Highway Safety Performance Committee. He is also a member of the Legal Resources Executive Board and an Emeritus Member of the Committee on Tort Liability and Risk Management. Mr. Gowan has served on several National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) project panels, including 17-36, which oversaw the publication of the 1st Edition of the Highway Safety Manual. He is also part of the NCHRP 17-38 team for Highway Safety Manual Implementation and Training.

Additional Information

This presentation was offered as part of KAI’s Transportation Education Series (TES). To view dates and topics for upcoming TES workshops, please visit our events page.

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