What damages can I sue for regarding incorrectly marked power lines in my yard?

UPDATED: Aug 5, 2011

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What damages can I sue for regarding incorrectly marked power lines in my yard?

Putting in-ground pool in back yard. Called for yard scan to insure no lines were in planned pool construction area. None marked. Designed pool and gave deposit. Contractor called again for yard scan before construction began. Once again clear. Last week digging began. Found 2 power lines in planned pool area and 1 just outside. Now both lines must be moved. Construction is at a standstill. Scanning company refuses to pay for mismarked and missing lines. Say it is my responsibility. I have pictures and witness who show no lines were present. I would like cost of lines and punitive damages.

Asked on August 5, 2011 Texas


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You could sue the scanning company for negligence.  Negligence is based on failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that in this case a reasonable scanning company would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  In order to prove negligence, you will need to prove duty(of due care discussed above), breach of duty (failure to exercise due care by not locating the power lines), actual cause, proximate cause and damages.  Actual cause means but for the scanning company not finding the power lines would construction have been stopped?  If the answer is no, which appears to be the case, you have established actual cause.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the scanning company of liability?  If the answer is no, you have established proximate cause.

Damages (the amount you are seeking to recover in your lawsuit) would include the cost of moving the power lines, the cost incurred by the delay in the construction project and any other costs due to the negligence of the scanning company.  You won't be able to recover punitive damages because punitive damages are for intentional, malicious acts.  Since the scanning company was negligent, punitive damages are not applicable.

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