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Existing Survey & Subsequent Landowners - Texas  

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A Harris
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Date of discovery usually has to do with the allowable time between discovery and Statue of Limitations toward their possession of the land not included in their deed.

The limit of time a surveyor is held liable for his survey is around 10 years from the date of the survey.

After that, the surveyor is off the hook unless some other reason of error can be proven.

When another surveyor takes a bad survey and uses it to continue or to restake missing monuments, they have assumed the responsibility of the first surveyor and made it their own by not going the distance to fully survey to the next acceptable monuments and find if their is any problem before closing the door and making out the final billing on his project.

There are more details to the mix, this is merely the jest of the current waters out there.

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holy cow
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We all must hang our hat on the work of those who have gone before us.  Our work will be the basis for those who follow us.  Thus, it follows that we absolutely need to make our very best effort at all times.  Minor measurement issues and differences of opinion be damned.  Do your work as though your financial security depended on it at all times.  Those who refuse to approach the profession with respect need to be drummed out of the business entirely.  The only "morning after" pill for our mistakes is to make an admission of wrong doing at the earliest possible moment and take action ASAP to make amends.

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aliquot
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@holy-cow

Very well said.

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kkw_archer
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@holy-cow Agreed0 One issue is that when CRS4U has survyed the property I must automatically assume it was conducted incorrectly and go to the previous survey, which is not a big deal because I know about them and know not to rely on their surveys.  The trouble comes in when someone who is not familar with CRS4U follows them up and holds their survey without any additional research/investigation and ends up perpetuating the inaccuracies.

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RADAR
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@holy-cow

Doctors bury their mistakes; lawyers send theirs to jail; engineers blame you for not catching it; Surveyors monument theirs for everyone to see...

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JPH
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 JPH
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Posted by: @holy-cow

What percentage of retired surveyors keep paying for professional liability insurance up through their date of death?

My point exactly.  It's an undue burden. 

Sure, we're all trying to do things right, but it's in our best interest to limit our liability as much as possible.  I can't imagine members of other professions arguing against this.  Why are we?

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MightyMoe
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@jph

The idea that surveyors monument their mistakes can be argued as true, but they don't monument their liability forever. 

The OP's example looks, on the face of it, to be beyond the limit. But you can get sued or can sue even if it's too late.

A good attorney will advise you to drop it, a bad one will push it, lose and collect the fees.  

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Take the next step in your career, PPI will get you there

Mike Marks
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Let's face it, when establishing long lost/obliterated boundaries we're liable for eternity. Discovery can occur years later, promulgating litigation.  Surveying insurance I've purchased has always involved limited construction surveying where parties try to transfer risk to subcontractors, a requirement for bidding.  Cruel but that's how it works.

So when doing pure boundary work do it with ordinary care concerning the profession; you cannot be busted for not being perfect, but you can be busted for egregiously substandard work.  Same as automobile repair, medical professionals, attorneys,  actually all "professions".

So I'm not a fan of statutes of limitations concerning boundary surveys; parties could discover your substandard work has harmed them decades later and you should be culpable.  Best defense is to be dead upon discovery, hard to get blood out of a turnip.  While practicing, ensure your analysis and map recordations meet the highest standards and you'll be essentially sue-proof.  Avoid clients who want a survey cheaply where you can't possibly do the job properly at the agreed price.

But that's just me;  carry on if your business is drive by shootings & lowball surveys with high profit margins; sooner or later you'll get popped in court and your business will go bankrupt.

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Duane Frymire
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Your questions are premature.  You have a layperson "saying" where they think the boundary is.  Versus, a surveyors opinion.  Surveyors opinion wins.

If you had 2 differing surveyors opinions, and neither would agree with the other, then you would need an opinion from the court.  If you didn't like that opinion you might be able to appeal and get a different one again.  At the end of it all the court would disagree with one of the surveyors.  But that doesn't mean said surveyor is liable for anything.

Just because the surveyor used a tax map as part of the research doesn't mean that's all the research that was performed.  In addition, the court might agree with the one who did less research.  Merely doing more research doesn't always mean the court will agree.

But yeah, if the statute of limitations has not run, and if you had a court decision against the surveyor, and then if you could prove negligence/malpractice (very difficult), then yes you could recover a couple thousand dollars to move the fence. 

Did one once where I disagreed with the previous surveyor and said a well was placed on the wrong lot.  My client was initially willing to convey the area at a small fee, but other side was not nice, so became a matter of principle.  Each side spent 10's of thousands on attorney fees, well had to be shut down and a new one dug costing 15k per, plus loser had to hire me to survey a lot next door and buy it to have a spot for the new well.  Brought about a divorce for the "winning" side.  My initial fee was about 2500. I had given similar estimate to loser and they opted for 600 survey, which set it all in motion.  Losing surveyor was not found negligent, court simply didn't agree with them.

Moral of the story; it's complicated and people involved are not necessarily out to get you.  Ask not whom you can blame but rather how you can most amicably and economically solve the problem.  If you have actual evidence of misconduct by the surveyor, file a complaint with the board of registration. Let them handle it and focus on your problem.  If the surveyor is truly a bad actor others will also be complaining and they will eventually be removed from practice.  If it is a matter of principle and you have the funds go for it, but realize you will be harming your neighbor in the process as well (of course that's usually why these end up in court, to use the hammer of the law against a neighbor).

In your example there's many reasons why the map you mention might be held to be correct by a court.

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holy cow
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@duane-frymire

Same sort of story here with adjoiners fighting over principle rather than dollars or common sense.  One side hired me.  When the court heard that side (the one the small town judge disliked the most) had hired a surveyor the court then hired one to give an "unbiased" opinion.  I found original bars in several places but absolutely nothing at one section corner no matter what theory I might use to find it.  Then the "court" surveyor did his thing.  Guess what.  He found a brand new, so shiny you could see your reflection in the end of it, bar three inches up in a location I had scoured thoroughly  with no record suggesting a bar had ever been set there.  That one bar skewed the entire survey enough to put the disputed line EXACTLY where the other side of the fight thought it should be.  After a couple days of hearings the judge decided the surveyor he hired had to be correct because he had hired him and said as much on the record.  There was no attempt by anyone to accuse me of wrong doing in any form.

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Duane Frymire
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@holy-cow Yeah, I dealt with something similar. Found an old weathered X chiseled on a stone that fit all the other evidence and was obviously done more than 50 years ago at the time of original survey.  In pre court hearings surveyor that didn't find it says he just put it there and was temporary point.  Old fart never chiseled on a rock in his life, I know I worked for him a number of years.  But they settled during the hearing so he never actually had to decide whether or not to commit perjury:)

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kkw_archer
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@duane-frymire  It isn't quite just a layperson "saying" where they think the boundary is.  To try to keep my original post as consise as possible, I did not give the background on the adjoining property where the building is.  For the adjoining property, she had it surveyed when she bought it in 2007 and that surveyor located and held the corner monuments called for in the previous survey that was conducted in the 80s.  In the 2007 survey, they surveyor noted the location of the building in relation to the boundary lines and also noted the alley along with the visible evidence of municipal utilities locted within the alley. All of this being properly filed of record at the courthouse.  When the fence stirred up the situation, the adjoining landowner hired us to verify her survey (previous surveyor had died of Pancreatic Cancer).  We went to the field and found all monuments called for by her previous surveyor and none of the three monuments claimed to be "set" by CRS4U, only her building corner that he had called for.  When we did not find his monuments and could not locate any transfer of title of the alley from the city I called CRS4U and met with him.  He told ME, that he based his dimensions on the tax map that his client had provided him with.  I asked him if he had pulled the deeds for the property and how he justified including the alley, to which he said he "had a document with dimensions. That and common sense was all that was needed."  Like you said though, who is to say that a court would find him neglegent even if the statue of limitaions had not already ran.  It will be curious to see what happens if the city ever needs to access the alley for line maintence/repair.  The adjoining landowner is considering contacting the board, but who knows if she will follow through.  

Like you had alluded to in your post, the most headstrong, vicious disagreements & lawsuits are over very small pieces of land. I conduct every one of my surveys as though each of the adjoiners is going to try to file a complaint, if I overlook something, it will not be because of lack of trying. 

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Duane Frymire
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@kkw_archer Ah, well that actually is negligence per se in just about any jurisdiction.  Should be reported to the board even if current landowner will not get any money out of it.

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