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Common Infrastructure Legal Mistakes to Avoid

Infrastructure projects hold a special place in the construction industry as they are almost exclusively managed by government agencies and impact every other construction project. Any construction company that works on infrastructure projects is familiar with the complexities and the potential problems that can arise. This is especially true when dealing with contracts and other legal issues. In this article, a Charlotte construction attorney discusses the common infrastructure construction legal mistakes to avoid.

Related: What You Should Take Into Consideration Before Bidding on an Infrastructure Project

Unclear Contracts

Dealing with infrastructure projects can be difficult for construction companies because of the complexity of the contract. There are many provisions in the contracts for infrastructure projects that are unique to working with the government. For example, normal remedies for nonpayment of similar issues do not work. Liens are one of the most common examples since you cannot place a lien on a government project.

Many construction companies find themselves in trouble on infrastructure projects when they fail to clarify provisions in the contract. Before you begin any work or sign the contract, it’s worth the time and effort to clarify every part of the contract with the issuing party. The worst possible outcome is if you sign the contract and find yourself stuck in a position where you cannot fulfill it because of unclear requirements but cannot get out of it because you agreed to the terms.

Clarifying contract information on a government project rarely results in problems. This is because the government would rather do all of that work upfront than try to deal with problems later on. You may also position your company as one of the best options for the project by showing that you are willing to do the work to fully understand the project and avoid problems.

Related: Can Liens Be Issued for Government-Owned Property?

Understanding Laws

Another area where companies find themselves in trouble on infrastructure projects is in dealing with applicable laws. It can sometimes be unclear which laws apply to infrastructure projects. This is because infrastructure can fall under city, state, and federal jurisdictions. This can create a complex web of applicable laws that are hard to navigate without sufficient experience or expertise.

One way of addressing this problem is to work with a Charlotte construction lawyer to sort out the laws. Construction lawyers often have the experience and expertise to determine which laws apply to which projects. Seeking clarification on the laws before they become a serious problem is an effective means of preventing serious legal issues as the project continues.

Forgetting Provisions for Delays

There are a lot of moving parts in an infrastructure project, which means that delays are very likely. Construction companies that work on infrastructure projects can face fines or other problems if they fail to negotiate provisions for delays in projects. It is also possible to negotiate remedies for delays, such as automatically changing deadlines, so that companies are not fined in the process. 

Negotiating provisions for delays has become a standard part of negotiating contracts, especially for infrastructure projects. It is entirely possible for a construction company to be delayed through no fault of its own. Many companies usually work on infrastructure projects at the same time, and the company’s failure to meet a deadline can affect everyone else on the project. This is why companies often work with a Charlotte construction attorney to negotiate contracts that offer effective protection against delays that the company cannot control.

Related: Mitigating Project Delays Before They Get Out of Control

Nonpayment

Working for the government creates an interesting dilemma for construction companies. The government is extremely unlikely to not pay a construction company for the work they did unless that work violates quality standards. At the same time, many of the standard remedies for construction companies to deal with nonpayment are not effective against the government. For example, you cannot file a lien against a government project.

Although nonpayment is rare in infrastructure projects, it can happen under specific circumstances. When it does happen, it is usually because the work priorities changed at the last minute and the construction company followed through on that change, but the government in charge of the project did not. 

To address this, the construction company can be more proactive in working with the government to handle these changes. The complexity of the project makes it harder for the government to successfully manage changes to the scope of work and adjust payment accordingly. By working with the government to handle the changes efficiently, the construction company can reduce its chances of not being paid.

Construction companies also have the option of filing a claim with the project’s insurance company. Every government project, especially infrastructure projects, is required to have an insurance plan that can help cover the payment for contractors and subcontractors. If you successfully file a claim against the project’s insurance, there is a high chance that you will be paid as long as everything is accurate and acceptable.

OSHA and Safety Violations

When working on an infrastructure project for the government, construction companies are required to maintain compliance with safety regulations. This means that getting an OSHA violation can lead to serious problems for the construction company, including being removed from the project altogether. Whether this is legally possible or not depends on the contract for the project. However, most projects have clauses that can have the company removed if it cannot adhere to the safety standards established by the site owner or government.

Legal issues can affect any project, but infrastructure projects are more sensitive to developing issues. Your construction company may need help preventing and dealing with the issues that arise. If you have questions about the legal issues to avoid in an infrastructure project, contact a Charlotte construction attorney from Cotney Construction Law.

If you would like to speak with a Charlotte construction attorney, please contact us today.

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.