An excavator has to exercise due care in making and maintaining excavations. If an excavator exercises reasonable care and caution as an ordinary prudent person would use under the circumstances of the particular case in making the excavation, the excavator cannot be held liable for the consequences. Liability exists only if the excavator acted negligently and in an unskillful manner.
The degree of care and caution required to be exercised by the excavator has to be proportionate to the danger involved. A landowner who intends to excavate his or her property has the duty to notify the adjoining landowner about the planned improvement and the adjoining property owner has to be given ample time to make necessary arrangements to safeguard his property. The notice should be served on time and has to describe the nature and extend to excavation that is going to be conducted. Common law rights allow the excavating owner to go on the adjoining land to shore up the property. In the absence of an agreement or statute an excavator cannot recover expenses incurred in protecting adjoining buildings, for the reason that he or she is a volunteer in such cases. According to some statutes or ordinances, an excavator has to comply with certain specific conditions such as giving notice of the proposed excavation to adjoining owners of buildings. The fact that a statute removed the common-law rule of absolute liability of an excavator for injuries to the lateral support of adjoining property does not relieve the excavator of liability for damages to buildings on non-coterminous land caused by his or her negligence in excavating.