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Who can submit a complaint?

Only a party that fits the definition of an aggrieved person may submit a complaint.  The law states that an aggrieved person is a person with duties and obligations under damage prevention law who is directly involved with or impacted by the alleged compliance failure.  But what does that mean?  In practical terms, it means that you must be an excavator, utility, designer or developer in order for your complaint to be valid. 

Example 1

You are a homeowner installing a fence on your own property.  You called 811 to report the excavation and waited 48 hours for local utilities to respond.  One of the utilities, a cable TV company, with underground facilities on your property did not mark the location of the lines and the line gets damaged, disrupting your television service.

Are you an aggrieved party under these circumstances?  The answer is “Yes”.  In this example, you are considered an excavator under the law and had an obligation to Call Before You Dig – qualifying you as an aggrieved person.  The utility had an obligation to mark or respond and did not, so your complaint would be valid and would be investigated.

Example 2

You are a homeowner and hired a contractor to install a fence on your property.  Because the law requires the person responsible for the excavation to call 811, the contractor is obligated to make the call.  As in the previous example, the contractor waited 48 hours but a cable TV company did not mark the lines on the property.  The line was damaged, disrupting your television service.

Are you an aggrieved party under these circumstances?  The answer is “No”.  In this example, you were not the excavator so you did not have any obligations under damage prevention law; therefore, you are not considered an aggrieved person.  A complaint submitted by you would not be considered valid under these circumstances and would not be investigated.  However, the contractor in this case would be considered an aggrieved person and it would be up to them whether or not they want to submit a complaint.

Example 3

You see an excavator digging in your neighborhood but do not see any paint or flag to indicate that a call was placed to 811.

Are you and aggrieved party under these circumstances?  The answer is “No”.  As with the previous example, you are not an excavator (or a designer, developer, or utility operator) so you do not meet the requirements to submit a valid complaint.  Therefore, this complaint would not be investigated.


If you have further questions, please feel free to contact the PUCO at 1-800-686-7826, Option 4.