The criminal charges are often filed against the on-site supervisor or equipment operator. A criminal charge against an employee may have serious consequences for both the employee and the contractor. A violation of the statewide fire protection code is a Class 1 misdemeanor that can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and a sentence of up to a year in jail. A guilty plea in the criminal action may also be admissible as part of a civil action to collect damages by the utility.
All contractors should take notice if any of their employees receive a summons relating to damage to an underground utility. The summons may appear to be a simple violation of a local ordinance, but may actually involve criminal charges against the employee with possible civil consequences for the company. Contractors should carefully evaluate the potential criminal and civil liability resulting from damage to an underground utility and consult with legal counsel experienced in these matters.