How Do I Bring an Architect or Engineer Malpractice Claim in Illinois?


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At 1818, we represent architects before the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.  Occasionally, we are called by consumers or companies harmed by an architect’s or engineer’s negligent work product, and we file lawsuits against architects for malpractice. This article will review what constitutes architectural malpractice, how to identify it, and how seeking legal assistance from a qualified attorney at 1818 can help you respond appropriately to this issue.

Understanding Your Architect’s Legal Obligations

Whether you are building your new dream home, a storage facility, an apartment complex, an industrial complex, or any other construction project, your architect’s work product is essential to ensuring the structure meets its purpose and is safe and reliable.

No matter how skilled, experienced, competent, and innovative your architect is, mistakes and mishaps occur on virtually every project.  However, whether those mistakes rise to the level of professional malpractice depends on various factors.  No architect is required to produce a “perfect” structure that satisfies every aesthetic and practical desire.  However, all architects have a legal duty to comply with professional and industry standards.

Depending on your contract, an architect’s typical duties include:

  • Providing design and construction plans
  • Giving you correct, proper, and adequate advice
  • Obtaining all requisite licenses and permits
  • Adequately supervising the project
  • Coordinating with the general contractor and subcontractors
  • Using suitable materials
  • Adhering to all applicable federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations
  • Adhering to all applicable worker health and safety standards
  • Bringing the project in on budget or obtaining the requisite authorization for budget overruns

What Steps Should I Take if I Suspect Architectural Malpractice?

Suppose your architect turns out to be incompetent or negligent in performing their duties, and you face significant financial loss. In that case, you should call 1818 to discuss your options for filing a lawsuit.

Common Architectural Malpractice cases include:

  • Failing to comply with building codes, zoning laws, or permits
  • Failing to complete a project by the contracted deadline
  • Understating costs
  • Providing insufficient supervision of contractors on-site
  • Providing incorrect advice or false information to a client

When Should I File an Architectural Malpractice Claim?

Your architect’s malpractice can cost you millions of dollars in damages.  Inadequate design plans can substantially delay your project.  Inaccurate weight load calculations can cause your elevator to fail or your entire building to collapse. If your architect’s negligence has put you in a position where you must salvage a building with significant structural flaws or reconstruct your property, our team at 1818 can help you succeed in bringing an architectural malpractice lawsuit. 

Can a Property Owner be Held Liable if their Architect’s Negligent Design Causes Injury?

A property owner needs to understand the repercussions that he may face if his architect’s design does not comply with professional and industry standards. If your architect’s design incorporates negligent features that cause a person to be injured on your property, you as a property owner could be held liable for the injuries incurred unless you concurrently file a claim establishing your architect’s contributory negligence in creating the hazardous condition.

In 2012, David Hokin hired Donald Van Gelderen to install window coverings around his house.  When Van Gelderen attempted to leave the premises, he instead fell down a stairwell located directly adjacent to the exit and suffered severe physical injuries.  In response, Van Gelderen filed suit against Hokin.  The jury found that the location of the stairway in relation to the exit constituted an unreasonably dangerous condition.  Because Hokin was the property owner, the court determined that an exercise of reasonable care would have put Hokin on notice of the stairwell’s danger.  Thus, Hokin had a duty to guard invitees on his property, such as Van Gelderen, against it.  Accordingly, the jury ruled that Hokin was contributorily negligent in causing Van Gelderen’s injuries and determined that he was liable to Van Gelderen for $1.5 million.

A year after the jury issued the $1.5 million judgment against him, Hokin filed a malpractice complaint against the architect who negligently designed his property.  However, in Illinois, a party seeking contribution may not file a separate action where there is already a pending or previously decided action regarding the same matter.  Thus, if Hokin wanted to establish his architect’s design errors as a contributory cause of Van Gelderen’s injuries, Hokin needed to have done so in the original suit against him.  Therefore, the liability for the $1.5 million in damages rested on Hokin’s shoulders alone simply because he raised the issue of his architect’s malpractice too late.

Why Choose 1818 for Your Architectural Malpractice Concerns?

Do not let your architect’s substandard work product plunge you into serious financial peril. Whether your claim arises from a design-related injury or focuses on financial damages incurred from structural setbacks, the best way to ensure that all your architectural malpractice claims are filed promptly and appropriately is to contact an experienced professional for guidance.  Thus, our seasoned attorneys invite you to fill out our online contact form or to call us at (312) 584-5444 for assistance and advice on navigating your architectural malpractice claims.

Jordan Matyas - 1818 Founder

Jordan Matyas

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Jordan Matyas is a lawyer, lobbyist, and Founder of 1818 Legal, an Illinois professional licensing defense law firm he created in 2014. With more than 18 years of experience practicing law, he represents clients in a wide range of legal matters, including professional license defense, administrative law, land use and zoning, and state, local, and municipal law.

Jordan received his Juris Doctor from the University of Illinois — Chicago School of Law and is a member of the Illinois Bar Association.