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What is Construction Litigation?

Litigation has several subcategories dependent on the field in which the parties in a legal dispute are operating, such as construction litigation vs. corporate litigation. Each area has its own specific laws and regulations that can be violated, hence the different types of litigation. Throughout each type of litigation, you can simplify it to the process of engaging in or contesting a legal action in a court to resolve the dispute. With that in mind, what is construction litigation specifically?

Construction Litigation Defined

Construction litigation is a specific area of the law where construction disputes are resolved in the courts. The parties involved can have disputes over a range of issues relevant to construction law, including injury or wrongful death, or negligence. Specifically, construction litigation refers to civil lawsuits rather than criminal prosecution, though the latter may happen simultaneously with construction litigation depending on the case. It’s important to note that construction disputes, as civil cases, are governed by rules and the burden of proof standards that are distinct from criminal prosecution.

Construction litigation can be costly and time-consuming for each party involved, which is why many contractors and construction contracts include clauses that allow for arbitration rather than litigation to resolve disputes. This is an informal process where each party makes their arguments to an arbitrator, who acts as a third party and makes a binding ruling on the dispute that both parties agree to prior. While this is a preferred course of action, construction litigation is sometimes inevitable, and always a recourse.

Common Types of Construction Disputes

Construction disputes that lead to litigation can involve multiple matters that range from the complex to the simple, from passed deadlines to injured parties, but there are several kinds of claims and disputes that are common in construction litigation:

Related to Construction Quality

If construction isn’t up to acceptable standards or it poses a threat to those who enter the building, it is cause for litigation and disputes. This often manifests as a claim whereby the owner finds issues in a finished or nearly finished construction project and blames the contractor for those failings.

This type of litigation can also involve accusations of using unskilled labor, lower-quality materials than agreed to, or unfinished essential aspects of construction.

Nonpayment

When contractors complete the construction and the owner doesn’t provide the agreed on compensation, the contractor can make legal claims to their payment resulting in litigation. In most cases, a contractor will file a mechanic’s lien, which can become attached to the deed or title of the property and will appear on the public record. This means that the owner cannot sell the property till the lien is lifted.

Injuries

When someone gets injured during construction, there are many factors that go into deciding fault; for example, did they put themselves at risk, or was it due to a lack of safety protocols? If the person injured wasn’t given safety training or the conditions weren’t up to safety standards, then the owner or contractor may be at fault, which is legal grounds for a dispute and litigation.

Mold

This is an area that is increasing in the area of construction litigation, the concern for toxic molds in buildings. Mold can enter a construction project and completed buildings in dozens of ways, from air ducts to objects to people’s clothes. These spores and the mold that grows from them can be toxic to people and animals. Construction disputes are now increasingly involved with mold issues and involve claims to recover costs to remove mold from buildings.

Lukins & Annis Practice Construction Law

Construction litigation can have a vast array of disputes involved, as you can see, but the most important thing when faced with construction disputes is having a qualified and experienced attorney at your side. The construction industry is unique, as are the laws and regulations that govern this business. Whether civil or criminal, you need an attorney familiar with construction disputes and the litigation that can rise from it.

We at Lukins & Annis have extensive knowledge and expertise in construction litigation, having worked with a range of contractors and owners. Our firm has a team of attorneys in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene skilled in both pre-trial negotiations and navigating the dispute in court. If you’re in the midst of construction litigation, we strongly encourage you to reach out and face the situation with the competent professionalism necessary to successfully weather the dispute.

Construction engineers supervising the progress of a project at dawn.
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