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If you have a retaining wall on your premises, or if you are contemplating building a replacement or a new retaining wall, there are a number of important factors that you need to bear in mind. These include the legal liability, or legal responsibility, that you have in regard to a retaining wall on your property. 

Overall Legal Liability or Responsibility for a Retaining Wall

Generally speaking, you have a legal responsibility to maintain a retaining wall in a reasonable safe and sound condition. If you have a retaining wall, or construct one, it must be maintained properly, and safety issues must be addressed.

If you fail to maintain a retaining wall in a proper manner, and the state of the retaining wall results the damage to another person or business’ property, you likely will bear legal responsibility for those damages under certain circumstances. Similarly, if another person is injured because of a defect associated with a retaining wall, you can face responsibility for losses associated with an injury sustained by someone else. 

Elements Associated with Legal Responsibility for Injuries, Damages, or Losses Associated with a Retaining Wall

If you are to be held responsible for injuries, damages, or losses associated with a retaining wall, a person seeking compensation from you must demonstrate the existence of four elements.

First, a demonstration must be made that you have a duty of care regarding a retaining wall. This can be established if you have a retaining wall on your property that you constructed or are responsible for maintaining.

Second, a demonstration must be made that you breached that duty of care. For example, this can be done if you fail to properly maintain a retaining wall.

Third, the breach of duty of care must be the legal and actual cause of the accident and injuries or damages. Finally, another party must sustain actually losses, injuries, or damages. They cannot be merely speculative 

Engage a Qualified Retaining Wall Engineer

Your legal responsibility for a properly constructed retaining wall begins at the design phase. In this regard, you need to engage a qualified, experienced retaining wall engineer to ensure that a proposed retaining wall is of a suitable, sound design.

If you fail to engage the services of an experienced engineer, and elect to proceed with construction without the involvement of a qualified engineer, you open yourself up to legal liability should something go awry in regard to the construction of or completed retaining wall.

The reality is that the absence of proper engineering in advance of construction of a retaining wall can expose workers involved in the project to safety issues. Once completed, if an experienced engineer was not involved in designing the wall, a design deficiency can expose you to legal liability. This can include legal responsibility to a person injured because of a design flaw. 

You can also be held responsible to property damage causes by an improperly designed retaining wall. This can occur when a defectively designed retaining wall abuts a public thoroughfare of some sort or another individual’s property.