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Thread: Hit a phone line and need help.

  1. #1

    Default Hit a phone line and need help.

    I was putting up a fence on Monday and I hit a telephone feeder cable. I called Miss Utilities and they had marked out where the line was so they thought. I was 5 feet from there marks. There was no tape or anything else to let me know that I was going to hit something. You can clearly see the marks that were put down. It did get out a camera and took about 50 pics of everything.

    When I hit it I called the phone company and called Miss Utilities. Miss Utilities will not come back out to look at there lines compared to where I was digging. The phone company is telling me it will be $3000 to $5000 to fix the cable. They have fixed the cable and form what I was told I will be getting the bill.

    I donít think that I should have to pay for anything but what should I do? I called my lawyer and he came out with his video camera and he told me that if it went to court I would end up paying for it.

    According to Miss Utilities they will be within 2 feet from the cable. I was 5 feet off there marks and still hit the thing.

    Iím tossing this under a plumbing because I would think someone would of hit something and would know what I need to do.

  2. #2
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    You will have to check and see what your states laws are reguarding this.

    Here in OH you must dig with a shovel if you are within 3' of either side of the marked line. 6' total.

    Your state may be different.

    It is good that you took before pics. Now take some after pics.

    You may want to check with your home owners ins. if you lose the battle with the utilities but don't hold your breath.

    Try calling where you called to have it marked and they may know.
    Last edited by Cass; 09-13-2007 at 07:05 AM.

  3. #3
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    Default Great

    I'm digging a small ditch today for the first time in 3 years and I read this.


    Why....would your lawyer automatically state that you would pay? It seems to me you followed standard practice and the ones who marked it, fudged up.


    I'm working under a deck today and I fear something is under the dirt other than a downspout line.

    I plan on using a small tiller and slowly break the dirt up.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  4. #4
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Well, this is strictly a legal question, so I won't even offer my opinion of what's right, etc.

    The question boils down to this: DOES THE LAW make the person doing the digging ultimately totally responsible to dig carefully no matter what, OR does relying on the information provided by the testing company transfer some of the responsibility to them. Strictly a lawyer question.

    You could try www.handelonthelaw.com I believe there is a feature on that website where you can post briefly about your case, and you may get a response from a lawyer if they think you have a case. This one will not be a freeby, strictly defense, and I suppose to defend would cost you way more than the five grand. If nothing else, it is probably worth paying a lawyer an hour for a consult to see 1) if you might prevail and 2) if you do, will the other side be obligated to pay your attorney fees. This will help you decide where to go.


    We are all dying to find out how this goes, so please keep us posed.

  5. #5
    Geologist sjsmithjr's Avatar
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    I do a lot of intrusive work (drilling) and the digger is typically on the hook for utility damages unless he has an agreement in place with the utility owner prior to commencing work. Some locator services (the free ones funded by the utiltity companies) do not mark service feeds. Additionally, they will typically tell you the marks are approximate and are to be verified by the excavator.

    If your attorney told you that you'd have to pay, then...well; I've never seen one turn down case they thought they could win. Check in with your insurance agent to see if you're covered.

    Rugged - we were racking so many utility damage bills that the company I work for now requires that we hire our own locator service in addition to the local one call, will not dig within 50 feet of a fiber optic cable unless the owner agrees in writing to accept responsibility, and fires you on the spot if you hit something and weren't hand digging (that means gently with a shovel) the first five feet after having the utilities marked. We can't even drive a survey stake until we get paint on the ground.

    -Sam
    Last edited by sjsmithjr; 09-13-2007 at 07:57 AM.

  6. #6
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    If you see that white bucket near the building wall, I have to dig from there to that gas valve on the pool heater, 18" deep.

    Some idiot pool man ran that gastite you see under the deck and it leaks everywhere, especially at the connections.

    I've already rerouted this gas line inside and right where the white bucket is there is a 3/4" gas line stubbed out of the wall.

    That 4" downspout line is the only thing I see so far; hopefully going shallow allows me some safety.

    I'm taking pictures of the progress to completion so I'll post back with either my misery or happiness.


    EDIT: Sorry about that; should of spaced my links. It won't let me do that now.
    Last edited by Dunbar Plumbing; 09-13-2007 at 08:49 AM.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  7. #7
    Consultant cwhyu2's Avatar
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    Is that normac or trac pipe? to rugged
    Last edited by cwhyu2; 09-13-2007 at 09:18 AM.

  8. #8

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    I called my insurance and told them what was going on. They said that they would send someone out if they could find my house. I told them where to meet me so I could pick them up. I have to go get him in about 10 min. There will also be a privet marking company that is coming with him to look at everything.

    I was told that if the marks are off that I would have to pay my deductible and it would not go ageist me as a claim and they would handle everything.

    I read the entire Miss Utilities and ďExcavate carefully - If the excavation is within 2 feet of a marked utility line, expose the utility line by hand digging and keep all mechanized equipment at least 2 feet away from the extremities of the utilityĒ. They donít say anything else about digging except about privet utilities.

    This line was over an inch round. I was using an auger on the back of my J-Deer. I snapped the bolt that protects the drive unit on the auger. I had to hand dig the auger out because it wouldnít pull out.


    Iíll be back on in an hour or so when I meet with these people.

  9. #9
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwhyu2
    Is that normac or trac pipe?

    Pretty sure it's gastite.....I don't work with this stuff as I don't want the liability....and there's 6 leaks in it.


    It's super thin corrugated stainless with the coating on it. Laying it on a walkway was about the stupidest thing I've seen in some time.


    Good luck nailed.......I hope the utility detecting company owns up to their mistake...and it is their mistake for not marking that properly.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  10. #10
    Sprinkler Guy Wet_Boots's Avatar
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    Locates are supposed to be accurate to within a given spec. If you are way outside the spec, then you should be able to avoid liability. You did get the locate done, the locating equipment has a known accuracy, so it is reasonable to expect the locating work to be within tolerance. (and just how sloppy is a 2-foot leeway? Any stooge should be within half-a-foot)

  11. #11
    Geologist sjsmithjr's Avatar
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    Liability is a state/local thing and the legalities rarely seem to follow common sense. Combine that with such variables as utility type, technique (direct induction, indirect induction, mag, or an as-built drawing), and experience and it is not uncommon for these onecall locators to miss by as much as 8 or 10 feet or fail to locate them at all.

    I'm curious to see what the original posters insurance company says. You can bet they won't pay up if the liability can be transferred to the locator service.

    Like plumbing code, it's best to know what the law is in your locality if you do intrusive work.

    -Sam

  12. #12

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    Well it all comes down to the phone company dose not have a right away on my land. My insurance will not do anything.

    Right now my lawyer, the county building department, a surveyor, the phone company, and the state police are on my property.

    I have to go down to the county jail and file trespassing on the phone line and for Monday when they came out to fix the line. My lawyer is going to make up papers saying that they have 30 days to remove the line and what ever BS goes with it.

    The phone company is trying to say there on the state right away but the cable is 20í onto my land.

    I will say that I do not want the wire run inside of my fence and I would rather not have it on my land at all. I just wonder how long till the flood gates open. I hope that they donít open till Monday.

  13. #13
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking have you taken picutres?????

    if you have not already,

    you need to document everything here.....


    take exact pictures or movies of exactly where the phone cable was supposed to be....

    and exact pictures of where you dug....


    that is probably going on already with all those people
    standing around ....

    but I would have my own pictures just for fun...


    you will probably not have to pay a cent

    and perhaps if you play your cards right

    the phone company will not want to
    spend the money to move that line,,,,

    so if you let them have access to that part of your
    property,

    you will probably get your attoruney fees
    paid for , and get the line fixed for free,

    just demand that they move the cable, and they will be
    singing another song...

  14. #14
    Senior Robin Hood Guy Ian Gills's Avatar
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    Only in America. Why couldn't they have just fixed it, smiled and left.

    Or do what they do in the UK: fix it, swear at you and leave.

  15. #15
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    If it turns out all in your favor you could walk away with a bundel of cash in your pocket, the line fixed, the lawyer paid and everyone happy.

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