If you have a construction claim or are named in one, you want to engage specialists such as ours, not a general practitioner. The laws related to construction claims change and evolve constantly and differ from state to state. In addition, the cost of construction litigation is often high enough that efficiency becomes important to the “success” of pursuing or defending a claim.
We represent a number of companies and individuals with legal issues in the construction industry. We work strategically and efficiently with our clients and are able to lend a strong guiding hand and take a leadership role on their construction issues.
At times on their affirmative claims seeking recovery, clients can engage us on a contingency-fee basis or other custom-fee arrangement, so please ask us about those options if you sense that they might work better for you than traditional hourly fees.
Below we discuss a number of the specific types of construction claims we commonly handle. If you have any questions about our expertise or about whether our approach will fit your particular situation, please ask us about it; we will be glad to talk with you.
When construction defects happen, a new building changes overnight from being an owner’s shining investment to an unexpected liability. For contractors facing such claims, the litigation process often throws companies without any experience in court into the arena of facing demands for voluminous documentation of events and large time commitments of personnel as they become needed in the litigation process. The risk of huge financial losses—or, sometimes worse, lost reputation—becomes very real. These claims become serious quickly for parties involved in them.
Construction defects can happen in the design, planning, supervision, inspection, or construction of any new building. They often result from a failure to construct the building in a reasonably workmanlike manner. This can arise from a failure to follow the plans and specifications, from simple inattention or poor work quality, or from the use of defective or non-conforming materials. Whatever the specific reason in a particular case, the result is that the final structure doesn’t perform as planned.
We understand building codes and the law. We also understand LEED and environmental certifications and requirements. We know how to determine whether a construction flaw is the result of a building violation, a bad design decision, a failure to perform quality work, or several factors acting at once. We will also engage the right experts to make sure the defect claim can be presented or defended with compelling evidence.
Even without any accompanying defects to the building itself, delays that occur during a construction project can cause substantial dollar losses to owners and contractors alike. When a building isn’t ready for the owner to open on time, the losses to the owner can be tremendous. For contractors, there are times when an owner is facing major delays but then refuses to give the contractor an extension of time, wrongly subjecting them to alleged delay damages, including liquidated damages or losses of contractual milestone bonuses.
Sometimes contracts deal with how the parties should handle delay issues, but surprisingly many times they do not. More often than that, either or both parties fail to follow contractual provisions requiring certain steps to be taken before a delay claim can be advanced. Our construction expertise will help any party navigate their contract language and pursue their claims.
Disruption, Inefficiency, and Loss-of-productivity Claims
Contractors often face how to deal with delays by others on a project, whether by the owner or by other contractors/subcontractors. You may experience large, very real losses from the costs of extended overhead, schedule/workforce disruption from having to perform out of sequence, and lost opportunities to take on other projects.
Contractors base their bids on contract language, a planned sequence of events, and their historic efficiencies. This in turn is rooted in reasonable assumptions that the work site will be ready on time and that the work crews will not be interrupted, moved off-plan to different work areas, or hindered from accessing their site. Even something as basic as an unreasonably placed lay-down yard can completely disrupt the planned work sequence and profits of a seasoned contracting company.
To present claims for disruption, inefficiency, or lost productivity requires knowing what types of evidence the courts will and won’t allow to document the losses. These claims often require specialized expert consultants to analyze and confirm what has caused the losses.
We suggest engaging us as early as possible, to help you make sure you are maximizing your chances of recovering the losses. Even when we are engaged after a project is completed, we will work with you to assess the contractual requirements and line up the best evidence of the claims possible.
Payment Claims and Mechanic’s Lien Claims
Most projects today will involve a payment claim by at least one party. Causes can include things as simple as poor recordkeeping, or parties asserting rights to payment they have not necessarily earned, or heavy-handed owners denying reasonable change order claims for additional work or extended overhead.
A mechanic’s lien is one payment tool that gives the claiming party a stronger ability to collect its alleged underpayment. Liens ultimately would allow contractors to force the sale of the project’s real estate if payment is not made. But the trade-off to this powerful right is that the lien procedures must be followed exactly, or else the lien is void (or partially void); such cases can result in claims for slander of title. This is a highly technical area and requires an experienced construction firm like ours to navigate the waters.
We work on payment claims, including mechanic’s lien claims. For owners, we can assess mechanic’s liens and help you determine what parts of claims are legitimately owed. We help contractors and owners prepare and present claims, and we can help you review your contract to determine your rights and obligations.
Construction Insurance and Bond Disputes
Insurance policies are complex documents, and for construction issues they can be even worse. The coverages, riders, exclusions, and exceptions make interpreting them very difficult for non-attorneys. The types of policies at issue often include Commercial General Liability (CGL) policies, builder’s risk policies, transportation policies (also including Carmack Amendment/shipping claims), or liability umbrella coverages.
Payment and performance bonds are often confused with “insurance” but are actually different. Sometimes a claim might be covered by both a bond and an insurance policy. The mere fact that a project had a performance bond or a payment bond in place does not mean the bond will pay for the particular loss you are facing. The procedures for making claims against a bond are again different from an insurance claim, as can be the nature of the information you will need to provide to the bond issuer to prove up the claim.
Talk with us about your situation. We review and litigate many types of construction-industry insurance policies, and we work with construction-bond claims. We’ll help you decide how best to present your claim to maximize the available coverage or benefits. We’ll litigate the issues for you when they can’t be resolved.
Construction job sites can be dangerous places. OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is the federal agency tasked with checking safety issues at sites. While OSHA serves a necessary purpose, its regulations are complex, and companies facing OSHA violations or an OSHA audit need legal representation. Our firm handles these and can help.
Likewise, workers or visitors to job sites may become injured due to conditions on the site. Our firm represents injured people on a contingency-fee basis, and we also have experience defending construction-injury claims.