Working in construction in Charlotte, NC can be a rewarding and lucrative venture. There is always new work that needs to be done and ample opportunity for your business to strive. That being said, there are many laws that construction professionals must be familiar with including their rights under the statute of limitations.
In this article, a Charlotte construction attorney discusses how the statute of limitations for construction law in Charlotte work.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a legal time limit placed on taking legal action after an incident. Essentially, it lets someone take action against the person that caused their problem for a specific amount of time. Once that time expires, that person can’t file a successful lawsuit anymore. If they do file, it will likely be thrown out because of technical reasons.
Every state has statutes of limitations for various legal actions, mostly in civil law. Criminal law has a slightly different mechanism for creating time limits on legal action. Statutes of limitations change based on which state you are in, so it is important to know the law for the areas where your projects are. Ignorance of the laws is no excuse when it comes to legal action.
The general statute of limitations in Charlotte is three years from the date of the incident. That means that you have three years to have your lawsuit filed with the court. Failing to meet the deadline could give up your chance to take legal action.
Charlotte Statute of Limitations
There are several statutes of limitations in Charlotte that you should pay attention to. They all address different aspects of legal action based on the problem that develops. These statutes include:
Breach of Contract
Working with a construction company means that there will be contracts involved. Because of this, many construction company owners are nervous about lawsuits. In cases where a contract may have been breached, the statute is three years. That means that you can file a breach of contract lawsuit up to three years from the date that your contract was breached.
For construction companies, this can relieve a lot of stress about working with particularly litigious clients. Three years can pass quickly, which gives construction company owners some protection from clients that will continue to push legal action in order to affect the company’s ability to work in the future.
Repose and Defects
On new construction projects, the statute of limitations is set by the statute of repose. Since the construction work produced something new, the owner of the property is given six years in which they can discover and file a lawsuit for defects in the construction. For example, they may be able to file a defect lawsuit if the foundation cracks within the first six years of a building being built. This statute starts from the day of substantial completion, which means that the construction project is finished except for a few touch-up things that need to be done.
Breach of Warranty
When a construction project is finished, there is an implied warranty on the work that is done. Even if you don’t offer an explicit warranty contract, you still have to honor the implied warranty on the work that you just did. That means if anything is not done well or breaks soon after being fixed, you may have to do some work to fix it. If you do not, you could be sued for breach of warranty.
In a negligence case, the negligence has to have some type of intent behind it. Failing to do something isn’t necessarily negligence. It focuses more on ignoring standards and obligations leading to an injury. It is important that you meet all of your responsibilities and do not willingly avoid meeting them, or you could be sued for it.
When Statutes Start and End
Statutes of limitations that have firm starting and end dates make it easy to know when you are clearly protected by the statute. In the majority of cases, that statute of limitations starts on the day of the incident. For example, the day that a contract is broken is the first day of the statute’s clock. If the statute is three years, then you have until the end of the day three years from the day that the contract was broken to file a lawsuit. To make this even more clear, the statute would run from January 1, 2020, until midnight January 1, 2023.
Not all statutes start with clear dates. Some have clauses that let multiple clocks run at the same time based on how they were started. For example, medical malpractice cases can start the day the malpractice happened or the day that you found out about an injury related to malpractice. In these cases, the clocks usually run out at the same time because clauses stipulate whichever comes first is the deciding factor. There are few cases in the construction industry where this type of statute could apply, but it is not impossible.
Lawsuits can be a nightmare for construction companies. Fortunately, there is a lot of legal help available to help you get through them. If you have questions about the construction law or statutes of limitations, contact a Charlotte construction lawyer from 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.