When you hire a general contractor to oversee a construction project, you expect the contractor to finish the project on time and under budget. Many construction projects move from start to finish without any major issues arising. However, an occasional project hits a significant roadblock because the construction company caused damage to the client’s property.
Ask Scott Stratton about the damage a construction company can do to private property.
“The general contractor hired a roofing company to replace damaged shingles, which required cutting down some large tree branches to give the crew access to the roof,” Stratton recalls. “One of the large tree branches came crashing down on my garage. I had no idea what to do when a construction company damaged my property.”
The first thing to do is contact a construction defect attorney to determine how to recover your losses. Whether a construction company flooded out your kitchen or destroyed what was once a beautiful front lawn, you have the right to receive compensation for your losses.
The most important question to ask a construction defect lawyer is who is responsible for paying for the damage caused by a construction company. Is it the company or the company’s insurer?
A construction defect attorney from Morgan & Morgan will conduct an investigation to determine the answer to the legal liability question. After you sit down with one of our lawyers for a free case evaluation, you should have a much better idea of what the answer is to the question, “What happens when a construction company damages my property?”
What Are the Common Types of Construction Defects?
The judicial system categorizes construction defects into three broad classifications.
Professionals such as architects and engineers sometimes design buildings and structural systems that do not work as specified. Many design deficiencies concern a construction company working outside of a specific building code. Roofs represent a common design deficiency that can lead to leaks, poor drainage, and/or insufficient structural support.
Using inferior materials is a tactic used by unethical construction companies that want to cut corners to save money on a project. A great example of a construction defect caused by a material deficiency involves a company improperly flashing the windows to prevent water leaks. Although the blame for material deficiencies typically is placed on the construction company, there are times when a supplier shoulders the legal liability for selling low-quality materials.
Unprofessional workmanship can produce a long list of construction defects. One prime example of a construction deficiency is when a plumber makes a mistake that results in water infiltrating part of a home’s structure. Other types of construction deficiencies include a pest infestation, using rotting wood, and deep foundational cracks.
Do Construction Companies Need to Be Insured?
A general contractor licensed to do business in the state where you live must have comprehensive insurance. This means any general contractor that you hire for a home improvement project must carry liability insurance. If you did not confirm that a general contractor has liability insurance before the start of a home improvement project, it might be difficult to claim the company is legally liable for the damage done to your home.
When you screen general contractors, ask each one to show proof of insurance, which includes the policy number for liability insurance and the amount of coverage the company carries. Make sure the coverage exceeds the minimum mandated by state law. If you have any doubts about the insurance coverage of a construction company, contact the local building inspector’s office to get verification.
What Happens if the Construction Company Does Not Carry Insurance?
If the construction company that you hire for a home improvement project does not carry liability insurance, the company might be unwilling to pay for the damages out of pocket. You can file a lawsuit against an uninsured general contractor, but the legal process can drag on for months, if not years. You might be able to recover the cost of the damage done to your home through your homeowners’ insurance policy.
How Do I Handle a Claim When a Construction Company Damaged My Property?
For minor damage, a construction company most likely will agree to repair the damage without charging for the project. A general contractor with a strong reputation for honesty and integrity should fix the problem without you asking for help.
Speak with the lead project manager of the construction company before you file a claim against the company. Depending on the amount of the deductible and the history the company has with filed claims, the construction company might pay for any damage done to your home without going through its insurer.
If the construction company wants to handle a claim through its insurer, the project manager will file the claim along with the proper supporting paperwork. You must provide the project manager with all of the documents associated with the damage done to your property. This includes receipts of repair bills, as well as the expenses for supplies and materials.
What if the Construction Company That Damaged My Property Denies Responsibility?
If the general contractor refuses to accept fault for causing damage to your home, you can file a civil lawsuit seeking to recover monetary damages. Your case might end up in small claims court or in front of a judge who presides over a civil trial. You can contact the construction company’s insurer directly, but if you want to go this route, you need the legal support of an experienced construction defect lawyer. Insurance companies work with accomplished litigators that fight back against costly insurance claims.
Which Insurance Company Pays for Damages?
The insurance company that pays for the damage done to your property depends on the coverage of your homeowners’ policy. The type of damage and the reason why the damage happened also play a role in determining which company pays for the damage done to your property.
Your homeowners’ policy might pay for the damage if you have accident coverage and/or a property damage clause written into your homeowners’ insurance policy. The damages also must fall within the limits established by your policy.
How Do I Find the Right Construction Defect Lawyer?
You might wonder, “How do I find the right construction defect lawyer when a construction company damaged my property?” The answer is by considering a few factors that establish the legal credentials of a construction defect attorney.
Lawyers that have recently earned their law degrees often handle less complicated cases when they are fresh out of school. Unless the damage done to your property is minor, you need to work with an experienced construction defect attorney who can demonstrate a proven record of success litigating construction defect cases.
An experienced attorney knows how to calculate the value of a settlement, as well as negotiate with the construction company’s insurer. Experienced litigators establish long-standing professional relationships with judges and the attorneys that work for the construction company’s insurer. Experience also matters when it comes to arguing your case in front of a judge.
Practice Area of Expertise
Construction defect lawyers work in a highly specialized legal niche. You want to work with an attorney who specializes in handling construction defect cases. A law firm might claim to have at least one construction defect lawyer, but when it comes time to handle your case, you get an attorney who specializes in another practice area.
The construction defect lawyer that you hire must respond to your questions and concerns in a timely manner. Having to deal with property damage that was caused by a construction company can leave you both angry and frustrated. An unresponsive lawyer compounds your anger and frustration. You should learn about how responsive an attorney is before you meet for a free case evaluation.
Positive Client Feedback
Established construction defect attorneys should have many positive reviews posted on sites such as Yelp and Google. You want to find a lawyer who has earned a reputation for helping clients recover monetary damages, as well as negotiating favorable settlements with insurance companies.
Offers a Free Case Evaluation
You are already in a financial hole because of the property damage caused by a construction company. Therefore, you should not have to pay money to receive a free case evaluation. A reputable lawyer will offer a free case evaluation to determine the best course of legal action. The attorney that you hire should operate on a contingency fee basis as well. This means your lawyer gets paid when you get paid.
Take Legal Action Today
The construction defect attorneys at Morgan & Morgan cover all the bases when it comes to finding the best legal representation for your case. Knowing the answer to the question, “What should I do when a construction company damaged my property” starts when you schedule a free consultation with one of our highly-rated construction defect lawyers.