Construction Litigation Attorneys in Los Angeles, California
A construction project involves many different parties of people, including property owners, general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers, and more. The possibility of something going wrong is substantial.
Protecting your part in the process depends on making sure any agreement or contract you consent to has your rights and interests front and center, along with what you are obligated to bring to the table. Documents should be the guiding principle whether you’re owner, contractor, subcontractor, supplier, design/architect, or any other person or entity involved.
If you’re involved in a construction project in or around Los Angeles, California, and a dispute arises that could lead to litigation, you should reach out for legal counsel and guidance immediately. In fact, you should have enlisted an experienced construction law attorney from the beginning of your involvement.
Our team at the Builders Law Group, Inc. has more than 15 years of experience in construction disputes and litigation and stands ready to help you with all your questions and concerns.
We will help you resolve the situation through alternative means or through litigation. We proudly serve clients throughout Southern California, including the counties of Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego, California.
Common Causes of Construction Project Litigation
Construction disputes that can lead to litigation or threats of litigation are numerous. Since almost everything is being done on a contractual basis between a property owner and general contractor, and general contractor and others, everything depends on how well crafted the contracts are. Contracts should spell out the rights and obligations of the contracting parties and also detail dispute resolution options, perhaps with a clause for mandatory arbitration.
The overall construction contract – which should be express or written -- should include deadlines, material and design specifications to be adhered to, payment schedules, and much more. With a detailed and focused contract, disputes can be resolved before they end up in the courtroom. That being said, disputes can erupt that end up in litigation, including:
Construction Delays: The owner expects everything to be done by a certain date, but the contractor fails to meet that deadline. Mother nature can get a pass, but if the contractor fails to meet the timeline because of permitting or material acquisition problems, there can be penalties imposed and ultimately even litigation.
Nonpayment: If the owner is dissatisfied with the progress of the project, they may delay payment, which can wreak havoc on the contractor and the subcontractors being employed in the project. They can use the nonpayment to file a construction or mechanic’s lien on the property, which will linger until resolved.
Quality Issues and Other Contractual Obligations: The owner may also have economic and liability issues if the project isn’t finished up to standards, perhaps because of poor workmanship or the use of substandard materials that can result in safety issues for users or inhabitants of the structure. The owner will likely seek a remedy, even if it requires litigation.
Methods of Resolving Disputes
Litigation is usually a last resort because of the cost and time involved which can result in further delays and losses of potential income. Negotiation is obviously the first option, but if the parties aren’t willing to budge, then the process should be turned over to experienced construction law attorneys to hash out a resolution.
If those negotiations go nowhere, mediation is another option. An impartial mediator will first meet with both parties and let them air their sides of the issue. After that, the mediator will meet separately with each party. Finally, the mediator will meet again with everyone and offer a resolution, but the resolution can be rejected by either or both of the parties. Nothing is binding.
Arbitration is usually binding and is a process that unfolds like a courtroom trial. Both sides present evidence and witness testimony and make their arguments, and can then challenge the other party’s evidence and witnesses. The arbitrator will issue a binding resolution when everything has been brought forth.
Some have argued that it is more efficient to begin with litigation. Filing a lawsuit costs only a few hundred dollars in court fees, and if the other party doesn’t respond in time, a default judgment can be rendered. Arbitration fees are generally higher.
Documentation in Construction Projects
While overall, the major players will engage in contracts, and the better crafted the contracts, the better it is for all parties. Some others involved in the project may be just supplying materials or playing other non-major roles. Even in those situations, however, it is important to create and maintain documentation in the event of possible litigation.
If a contract is not necessarily warranted, the party should at least send an engagement letter to be signed by the owner, contractor, or other parties on the other end. Once that is signed, it becomes as binding as a contract. Also, remember to save all letters, emails, and text messages involved in your transaction. Avoid the handshake agreement. Get everything on record.
Construction Litigation Attorneys Serving Los Angeles, California
If you’re about to engage in a construction project in or around Los Angeles, California, contact us at the Builders Law Group, Inc. We can review everything to make sure you’ve covered all the legal bases. If a project you’re already involved in is facing a dispute and possible litigation, reach out immediately. Let us assess the situation and advise you of your best options going forward.