Legal consequences of damages to underground facilities by horizontal directional drilling

Samuel Ariaratnam, James J. Proszek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Horizontal directional drilling is rapidly becoming the method of choice for installing new underground systems including water, sewer, electrical, telephone, fiber-optic cables, and gas lines. Due to its minimal impact to surface activities and competitive cost, this technique is being utilized worldwide. Unfortunately, poor drilling practices by some contractors have caused utility strikes that have resulted in major legal ramifications and subsequent negative image of the technique. Just one incident alone can result in significant monetary judgments due not only to the reparation for repairing the damaged utility, but also for damages due to "loss of use." This paper presents theories of legal liability and recoverable damages applied to incidents of damages to underground facilities by the contractor. Recommendations for preventing the repetition of these types of incidents through the discussion of prior identification of potential hazards and proper drilling practices are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-354
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Professional Issues in Engineering Education and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 25 2006


  • Damage
  • Drilling
  • Legal factors
  • Underground construction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Industrial relations
  • Strategy and Management


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