I have yet to meet a client who has enjoyed being involved in a lawsuit. The cost of a large document production, the stress of sitting for depositions, and the time to prepare for trial can weigh heavily on a company and its owners. But, there are some steps that you can take to limit, if not avoid, being sued.
- Know the terms of the contract. You must know and understand the various provisions of the contract and what they are requiring you to do. There is a great post from Melissa Brumbeck, author of Construction Law in North Carolina, discussing essential terms for a contract.
- Know the scope of the project and your obligations. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know the extent of your responsibilities. Do you have to provide safety training on site? Are you responsible for certain LEED certification reporting?
- Know the reporting requirements. You must know how to request a change order or report delays on the project. When a project starts to break down, it’s easy to point to a subcontractor’s failure to timely request a change order or report a delay.
- Know your insurance obligations. Make sure you are familiar with not only the insurance requirements of the contract, but also your own insurance coverage. While you may have adequate coverage limits, there may be exclusions that would allow the carrier to avoid paying.
- Know the owner or architect. Trust can go a long way to avoiding a lawsuit and if you have a relationship with the owner or architect, you may be able to work things out instead of heading to the courthouse.
Even if you do know all of these things, you can still get sued. But, by knowing as much as possible about your project and the people behind it, you may be able to minimize the time you spend in litigation, and in turn, the amount you spend on legal fees.