Enforcing payment when providing labor, materials, or services can be a tricky situation. Whether your role is as a subcontractor, material supplier, professional or laborer, you want to be paid in a timely manner for your services, but you don’t want to lock yourself into a long-term legal battle with a project contractor.
If you were hired by a project contractor, you are not obligated to serve a preliminary notice before taking legal action against nonpayment. However, it is likely in your best interest to hold off on filing a lawsuit against the surety and the project contractor to enforce payment under the contractor’s payment bond. The Orlando construction lawyers at Cotney Construction Law are very familiar with this trying predicament, and in this two-part guide, they will lead you through the many pitfalls of making a Florida payment bond claim.
The Pre-Claim Notice
Before filing a lawsuit, it is advisable to serve the public entity, surety, and project contractor with a robust pre-claim payment demand. A pre-claim payment demand showcases your intent to aggressively pursue a payment and hints at the possibility of an incoming lawsuit without dedicating the time and money required to proceed with legal action. By issuing a formal notice of your dispute, you state your intentions and set the terms.
The 45 Day Notice of Intent
If you were not hired by the project contractor directly, you must serve the contractor with a “45 Day Notice of Intent” to protect yourself against nonpayment. This notice can be served before entering the contract or providing any labor, materials, or services to ensure that all payments are issued upon the completion of the project in question. All claimants, excluding laborers, can issue this notice to defend against nonpayment. However, the latest you can issue this notice is 45 days from the first day you issued labor, materials, or services to the contractor.
The 90 Day Notice of Nonpayment
A “90 Day Notice of Nonpayment” is required for any claimants (including laborers) who were not hired directly by the project contractor. This notice must be served to the project contractor and the surety 45 days after providing any labor, materials, or services. This notice must be sent as a sworn statement. For example, a strong payment demand letter or an affidavit to be executed before a notary enclosed in a letter.
There are many ways to proceed with a Florida payment bond claim. In part two of this two-part series, we will take a look at more methods for collecting the money you are owed.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.