10 Key Signs That Tell You to Hire a Construction Lawyer Right Away

The United States is an ever-expanding country and this means that there is a constant need for construction. In fact, by 2050 commercial building space is due to grow by at least 34%. This means the demand for the construction industry is greater than ever before.

It also means that protecting people working in construction is extremely important. Construction laws date right back to 1750 BC and the Code of Hammurabi although they’ve come a long way since then! Nowadays, construction law is a complicated branch that protects employers and employees alike.

If you are working on a site or running one, understanding the ins and outs of construction law will help to keep you and your business safe. This is where a construction lawyer can help!

Read on to find out more about what a construction lawyer does and when it might be time to call one.

What Does a Construction Lawyer Do?

There are currently more than 1.3 million lawyers working in the United States. However, not all of these lawyers will be working in the same field. In fact, all lawyers have to choose an area to specialize in.

You may be familiar with more mainstream areas of law, such as criminal or family law. Construction law is a very specific legal branch, which requires special training. Specialist construction lawyers can work for a range of clients including:

  • Large corporations
  • Individual freelancers
  • Property owners
  • Sureties
  • Companies for hire
  • Equipment supply companies

As you can imagine, these clients may need construction lawyers for a variety of different reasons. So why might you need a construction lawyer like Verhaeghe Law fighting your corner?

Why Might You Need a Construction Lawyer?

First and foremost, hiring a lawyer ensures that you have a fair shot at the legal process, no matter what you need from it. Thanks to their specialist knowledge, they will be able to represent your needs as successfully as possible.

Construction lawyers will be able to look at what you need and advise you on the best way to achieve this. They will also be able to help you with things like gathering evidence and meeting deadlines for lawsuits.

This can save you a lot of time and money in the long run. So it is important to think of hiring a local attorney as an investment.

Construction lawyers can help with a huge range of construction-related matters. Let’s take a look at ten reasons why you might need help from a construction lawyer.

  1. You’re Starting a New Project

Often we think of lawyers as people to hire when something goes wrong. However, getting help from a construction lawyer at the start of a project can help to prevent a whole range of issues.

If you are an employer, they will be able to draw up contracts and identify areas that you must legally deliver in. By doing this, the best lawyer can protect you from lawsuits and contractual issues in the future.

They will also be happy to review any building plans to ensure they are in line with construction laws in the area. This means you won’t accidentally embark on a project that is doomed for failure.

If you are about to start working as an employee, it is also a good idea to get a lawyer to look over your contract. They will highlight any problematic clauses and will explain your rights based on your contract. You should never sign an employment contract unless you are perfectly happy with everything in it.

  1. You’re Going to Court

If you are going to court it is almost always a good idea to have a lawyer by your side. They know how the process works and are your best bet for success. On top of this, you may be legally required to seek representation.

In most legal cases, individuals are allowed to represent themselves in American courts. However, the majority of construction businesses are not registered as sole proprietorships. Instead, most are registered as organizational structures such as:

  • Limited liability companies (LLCs)
  • Limited liability partnerships (LLPs)
  • Incorporated companies

The court does not view these types of companies as “individuals”. As a result, they require legal representation in a court, so you cannot represent yourself.

  1. You Want to Dispute a Payment

There are many different ways that contractors, employees, and suppliers can chase up payments.

Many of these do not require help from a construction lawyer. For example, you could raise the issue through a small claim court.

You can also leverage a lien or bond claim without the help of an attorney. This essentially means that you threaten to collect on a contractor or supplier’s bond in lieu of payment. More often than not, this will prompt them to pay you back before you need to take further legal action.

That said if you want to enforce a lien or bond claim, you will need help from a professional. Prompt payment or retainage claims often require additional legal action. If you intend to go through with your claim, it is best to have a lawyer on your side.

  1. You Need to Review a Construction Contract

As we’ve already mentioned, you will need help from a construction lawyer when drawing up a new contract. However, over the course of a project, things can change. This may mean that you end up revising the terms of a contract.

For example, a supplier may offer you a payment extension or you may reduce your employee’s contracted working hours.

It is important to make these kinds of changes formally. While this can take a little extra effort, getting it down in writing is in everyone’s best interests.

This ensures that all of your contracts are up-to-date. It also ensures that any changes you make won’t directly contradict pre-existing clauses. Keeping this paperwork up to date is key if you find yourself fighting a contractual dispute, which leads us to our next point.

  1. Someone is Disputing a Contract

An employment or supply contract is essentially a list of rules that you agree to stick to for the duration of the project. This often includes:

  • The length of a contract
  • Salaries and product prices
  • An employee’s working hours (including any holiday, sick pay, or break that they are allowed)
  • Details for the termination of a contract (such as the length of a notice period)
  • Delivery deadlines for suppliers

A contract will also include clauses that an employer must stick to. For example, it will outline workers’ insurance and health and safety regulations that an employer must meet.

A person can dispute the clauses in a contract before signing it. You can also raise a dispute if someone violates a contractual clause. This theoretically means that the contract is no longer valid so neither side has to meet its requirements.

For example, if an employer doesn’t provide adequate health and safety equipment, you can refuse to meet your working hours.

However, you should get advice from a professional before disputing your contract. They will be able to review the situation and advise you of your rights. They may also suggest collecting some evidence of the contractual violation.

You should not break your terms of a contract unless a lawyer says that this is within your rights. Violating a clause without just cause could leave you in serious hot water.

  1. There Has Been a Jobsite Injury

The injury rate in the construction industry is 71% higher than any other industry in the United States. This is understandable given the type of work and machinery involved.

However, you still have to handle every workplace injury with care. This involves:

  • Seeking medical help immediately
  • Taking the time needed to recover
  • Logging the injury with the site manager
  • Reviewing any health and safety measures that could help to prevent such an injury

If someone has been injured on a construction site then they may seek compensation for their injuries. An employer who has workers’ insurance can use this to pay out a claim. However, they might choose to pay out of pocket to protect their premiums.

If you want to report a workplace injury it is a very good idea to get a construction lawyer on your side. They will let you know exactly what evidence you need and what contractual rights you have.

  1. A Construction Lawsuit is Involved

Every year in the United States people file more than 40 million lawsuits across a whole range of industries. Whether you are filing a lawsuit or fighting one, it is a good idea to lawyer up straight away.

Having a lawyer on your side will show that you are taking things seriously. This increases the likelihood of you getting a fair settlement either in or out of court.

If the lawsuit is against you then this puts you in the best possible position to get it thrown out. A construction lawyer will also be able to spot a real lawsuit versus a weak threat of one very quickly.

Losing construction litigation will almost always cost far more than hiring a lawyer. So it is in your best interests to invest in one.

  1. Defective Construction Claims are Being Made

It is important that you take any defective construction claims very seriously.

These can crop up on current projects or may be brought forward by old clients. Either way, you need the best attorney on your side to fight them and protect your reputation.

Your lawyer will be able to clarify the situation as quickly as possible and may be able to prevent a lawsuit altogether.

To help yourself out, make sure that you keep your records of previous jobs well-organized. This can make all the difference in throwing out a defective construction claim.

  1. You Want to Take Contractual Action

We’ve already talked a lot about contracts and why they are there. However, there is one last way that you can use your contract.

Some clauses will be in place to enable specific action. For example, all contracts will have a termination clause and some may have an escalation clause.

Before using one of these clauses it is important that you seek legal advice. Using a clause incorrectly could mean that you violate the contract itself, leaving you liable to a lawsuit. A construction lawyer will tell you quickly when and how you can use the clauses in your contract.

  1. You Need to File Bankruptcy

Nearly 500 corporate companies have gone bankrupt in the last year alone. So if you’re facing bankruptcy, you’re in good company!

However, this process is extremely complicated and there are several ways that you can manage it. You will need to:

  • Understand the different types of bankruptcy and choose which is right for you
  • Have a full account of your assets and debts
  • Provide details for your liabilities

A construction lawyer can help you navigate this process. You may also want to seek guidance from a bankruptcy or finance lawyer. They will be able to help you make decisions about outstanding payments and managing creditors during bankruptcy.

Get Help Today

As you can see, when it comes to understanding construction law, having a construction lawyer on your side is vital.

Even if your issue appears to be minor, an experienced lawyer will quickly straighten things out. They will be to protect you and your business both now and in the long run. So what are you waiting for?

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