SB 904 - This act modifies provisions pertaining to the Underground Facility Safety and Damage Prevention Act.

Under current law, gas distribution lines, electric lines, telecommunications facilities, cable t.v. facilities, water lines, storm drainage, and sewer lines located on private property and owned by the landowner are not considered "underground facilities" for purposes of the Underground Facility Safety and Damage Prevention Act. This act modifies this definition by requiring that if any of the above-mentioned lines are used for vehicular traffic control, the lighting of streets and highways, or communications for emergency response, they shall be considered an "underground facility." The lines shall also be considered an "underground facility" if they cross or lie within a public easement, public right-of-way, or another person's property.

Current law provides an exemption for railroads regulated by the Federal Railroad Administration, where the definition of "underground facility" does not include any excavating conducted by a railroad on land owned or operated by the railroad or on adjacent land in an emergency. This act removes this exemption.

An owner or operator of an "underground facility" shall have no cause of action against an excavator for damage to his or her facility if the owner or operator has not complied with the damage claim notification requirements of the act. Excavators who fail to give required notice of proposed excavations and owners or operators of underground facilities who fail to provide required information to excavators shall be presumed negligent under the act. A court shall award reasonable attorney's fees to the prevailing party in a cause of action regarding damage to an underground facility.

Claims for damages to an underground facility shall be provided to the excavator by the owner or operator of the damaged facility within the earlier of 90 days after completion of repairs or 120 days after the excavator notified the facility owner of the damage. The claim shall be made in writing, itemizing the amounts requested, and given to the excavator via personal delivery or certified mail. The time frame may be extended if a lawful authority delays the repair of the damage to the underground facility or in cases involving temporary and final repairs.

Claims for damages shall not be enforceable if they are not provided in accordance with the requirements of the act.

Actions by the owner or operator of a damaged underground facility against an excavator shall be brought within one year of the date of damage, provided the excavator complied with the damage notification requirements.


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