Litigation is often seen as an unavoidable part of working in the construction industry. In fact, there are nearly 30 million disputes each year involving construction businesses in North America. These include cases involving employees, customers, suppliers and sub-contractors. However, a careful owner or boss can greatly reduce, if not totally eliminate court cases by following a few simple, yet essential, steps.
Ways to avoid litigation in the construction business
1. Document everything. Good documentation and notes are the best way to avoid litigation. When you can quote dates and times to support your version of events, your opponent will be much less eager to see you in court. It's also a good idea to make sure that all correspondence and hand-written notes are legible. Even the author may have trouble deciphering sloppy handwriting months after the fact.
2. Keep talking. No matter how angry you are and/or how far apart it seems that you are from your adversary, keep the lines of communication open. When you stop talking his or her calls, your disgruntled employee or client will likely view the court system as his or her only alternative.
3. Always have a contract. Whether you're working with a client, hiring an employee or ordering materials for a job site, it's essential that both parties know--in writing--what is expected of them. A contract is also handy in the event a party threatens litigation. It can be pulled out to clarify a situation and clear up any misunderstandings. Make sure that any changes to the original contract are added and signed by both parties.
4. Carry the necessary insurance. While insurance and bonding can be expensive, it will seem a bargain if an accident happens on a job site or a client's expensive car is damaged because of an error by one of your crew members.
5. Plan for the unexpected. Always having a back-up plan can go a long way towards keeping you out of court. That back-up plan will help you finish your job on time should weather conditions deteriorate and/or make sure that you have all of the materials you need on site for the next stage of your build, thereby keeping your clients happy.
Litigation doesn't have to be an unpleasant, but unavoidable, part of the construction business. Make sure that your company stays out of court by keeping the lines of communication open not matter how tense the situation, never entering into a relationship without a contract, carrying all of the insurance you need and planning for the unexpected. For more information or assistance, contact companies like Wright, Ponsoldt & Lozeau, Trial Attorneys.