No matter how carefully you run projects, it’s only a matter of time until you are met with a claim or are forced to move forward with one of your own. In the construction industry, it’s not a question of “if” but “when” the other shoe drops, and when that happens, you’ll need to be ready for what comes next.
In this article, a Nashville construction dispute lawyer with Cotney Construction Law discusses six ways you can protect your company when involved in a construction claim. Whether these claims are the result of a defect, contract dispute, or nonpayment, it’s important that you follow these tips in order to protect your interests and avoid paying exorbitant damages.
1. Take Emotions out of the Equation
Construction projects involve time, money, and backbreaking work. It’s only natural for someone to become angry when their leadership, workforce, and products are brought into question. However, your emotions will undoubtedly play a role in what happens next, and you must not allow them to guide your decision making. How you react and, more importantly, what you do, may one day be presented to a judge in a court of law.
When you receive notice of a claim by phone, letter, or in person, you need to take a step back and realize that the claim process has already begun. Similarly, if you must notify an owner of a potential claim, you need to avoid being drawn into a shouting match over the phone. In many cases, the entire claim process could have been avoided with the drafting of a simple yet effective demand letter.
2. Avoid Admitting Fault
You’re not going to win your claim by shooting yourself in the foot. When presented with a claim, your first instinct may be to try to smooth things over and admit wrongdoing. For all you know, this may just give an owner enough confidence to move forward with a claim they were in doubt of. Remember, under Tennessee law, you may offer to remedy an alleged construction defect or offer monetary compensation. Don’t give an owner the information they need to reject your offer.
3. Review Your Contract
The construction contract is the most important indicator of how a claim will play out. These all-important documents stipulate the time-frame and cost for a project, along with outlining what must be done in the event of a construction claim. They may also include an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) clause that will prevent a dispute from reaching a courtroom. We always recommend having a construction contract drafted by a Nashville contractor attorney to ensure that stipulations and contract clauses are always in your favor.
4. Maintain Documents
Whether you’re pursuing a claim or preparing to defend yourself from one, you’re going to need evidence. We recommend investing in construction software that can maintain all incoming and outgoing documents and have them available at a moment’s notice. Above all else, you must never destroy documents related to a claim. By doing so, you will only be replacing one problem with a larger one. If you are involved in a claim and unsure of what documents are vital, consult one of our construction law attorneys.
5. Contact Your Insurance Company
Under no circumstances should you hesitate to contact professional services that can benefit your cause. Your insurer can provide vital information pertaining to your liabilities and risks. They can inform you of what’s covered under your insurance policy and what isn’t. They can also help you with costs for non-legal fees, such as consultants and expert witnesses. However, your insurer will be unable to provide the legal advice needed for you to effectively navigate the entire construction claim process. For that, you will need a Nashville construction dispute attorney.
6. Partner With an Attorney
The best thing you can do to protect your company from a claim is to partner with a skilled team of attorneys dedicated to protecting the hardworking contractors of the industry. A lawyer can review the specifics of your claim and take the necessary steps to ensure a desirable resolution. This may mean proposing ADR methods or preparing for a day in court — whatever it takes to protect your company.
At Cotney Construction Law, we understand that legal services don’t come cheap, which is why we offer a variety of subscription plans to suit the needs of our clients. Our affordable plans are designed to ensure that you always have access to a knowledgeable attorney who can protect your company at a moment’s notice. If you are involved in a claim or would like to take precautions to avoid a drawn-out dispute, partner with the experienced attorneys at Cotney Construction Law.
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.