From missed completion dates to flaky subcontractors, the adversarial nature of construction means disputes are common. Each construction project comes with multiple parties and contracts, which opens the door for disagreements and litigation. If you are involved in construction, there is a chance you will deal with construction litigation at some point.
What is construction litigation?
Construction litigation refers to legal disputes that arise throughout the construction process. Construction-related disputes may arise at any point before, during, and even after construction. Any legal action that arises from the planning, development, or construction of a project are known as construction litigation.
What leads to a construction lawsuit?
Contracts are one of the most common subjects of construction litigation. This is because in construction, contracts are everything: they serve as a means of protection for all involved parties by memorializing the agreement and setting expectations for how the work will proceed. Litigation can arise when events go sideways, leading to unmet and frustrated expectations.
Additionally, accidents and injuries are not uncommon on construction sites and as such, they too may lead to litigation. If the injured parties believe that the construction site was unreasonably dangerous or work conditions were unsafe, they may sue the contractor, site supervisor, or developer, among other potentially responsible parties.
What types of claims can be asserted in a construction case?
Many construction claims arise from a breach of contract. Construction defects and delays, and quality of construction often can be tied back to the initial contract. Owners expect project completion to be timely, pass inspections, and for the build to be safe. When construction issues like unskilled workers or substandard materials result in a project that cannot be safely used for its intended purpose, the owner may file suit for breach of contract based on unsatisfied expectations within the contract.
Nonpayment is another claim found in construction litigation. When a contractor completes a project according to the terms of the contract and the owner fails to compensate the contractor as agreed, the contractor may file a lawsuit for nonpayment. One remedy for nonpayment claims is a mechanic’s lien. The contractor can file a lien that attaches to the property through deed or title. The property cannot be sold until the contractor is paid.
Finally, as noted, jobsite injuries are another claim asserted in construction cases. Not only can the injured worker’s boss be liable for injuries related to inadequate training or unsafe work conditions, but the site owner may also be sued if the contract does not include a liability waiver.
How can a construction litigation attorney help?
With so many moving parts, construction projects are ripe for legal disputes. Before you sign the construction contract and throughout the construction process, you need an experienced construction litigation attorney who can help you navigate the issues that will inevitably arise. Lawsuits are expensive, time-consuming, and can ruin business relationships. An attorney can help you protect yourself, your business, your employees, and your projects from the time the contract is drafted, through construction, and beyond the project’s completion.