Contractor Representation in Disputes
Real Estate Attorney Nassau County
John, a contractor in Louisiana, entered into an agreement to elevate a customer’s home. The job would mean a paycheck of over $68,000. When the work was in the final stages, however, the homeowner refused
to cooperate and allow the elevation to be completed. As a result, John’s suing the homeowner for just over $21,000.
The first name is fictional, but the case isn’t. This really happened in September 2014, and it points out the difficulties that can sometimes arise for contractors. Sometimes it’s the contractor who sues the customer. In other cases, the customer sues the contractor. Either way, it can be a time-consuming and costly scenario for your business.
Whether you’re just starting out in your business or are a longtime contractor, you’ve made a substantial investment in your company. You’ve put in a great deal of time, money, and hard work to build a
Contractors deal with many clients over time, all with differing expectations and preferences. Some clients will never be satisfied, and some of them will take their dissatisfaction to court. Other clients will have legitimate issues with your contracted work that may or may not be your fault. Another group of clients won’t pay their bills in a timely manner despite work well done.
Disputes and legal action are costly and take valuable time away from operating your business. If you or your company are threatened with a lawsuit, your financial future could be at risk. Money aside, a disgruntled client may bring a case with the board that regulates and licenses your industry, jeopardizing your ability to do business and earn a living in your chosen profession.
Sometimes the situation is reversed, and you and your company must consider legal action against a client, usually for lack of payment.
Potential problems are avoided with the help of an experienced Real Estate Attorney Nassau county. By learning about potential pitfalls in advance and knowing how to avoid them, you can protect your company and livelihood. In the event you are sued or file suit against someone else, an attorney provides you with expert representation in and out of court.
As a business owner, you’re not only responsible for your own actions,but also for properly supervising the conduct and actions of your employees and independent contractors on job sites. You can’t predict everything, of course, but you can take steps to lessen the probability that you’ll have issues and even face legal action as a result.
The following are some elements important to any legal action you may bring or have brought against you:
Any job should begin with a well-drawn written contract. This is a vital step that can mean the difference between winning or losing a legal dispute. Verbal “handshake” agreements often lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. This is true even if you’ve successfully done work for a client in the past without issue or if he or she is a longtime friend or colleague. Without a contract, everything is open to misinterpretation.
If you or your client wants to change anything about the terms of the contract, it’s essential to draft a change order in writing, signed by both parties. Your time is valuable, and you want to be accommodating to
your client, but don’t fall into the easy trap of making changes in the job without also modifying your written agreement.
A real estate attorney can help you make sure you have the proper elements in your contract and that it meets the requirements of your state licensing board. It should be as specific as possible in regard to payments, deadlines, and expectations.
If you face a dispute with your client – perhaps they say the job wasn’t completed in the proper time frame, or they haven’t paid you the full amount that’s due – your contract and change orders will be the foundations of your case.
Keep meticulous records, including job site notes, proof of payment for materials, and money paid to subcontractors.
Your lawyer will want to see these as soon as possible, and the more organized you are, the better. You and your workers may forget some details over time, or some of your workers may be hard to contact, especially if it’s been a long period of time between the job and any legal action.
Open, Frequent Communication
You can’t be on every job site every day. You’ll need to designate a trusted site supervisor that your client can communicate with. Make sure your on-site workers have clear instructions and contact you with any
proposed concerns that they or your client may have.
Also make sure to visit the site regularly to check in on progress and work quality and to talk to the client.
The threat of legal action from either side doesn’t have to end in a lawsuit. Mediation or binding arbitration can often bring a less expensive, more expedient resolution. With the right guidance, you and your client may be able to reach an agreement that leaves both sides satisfied with the outcome.
Your lawyer can help advise you about all of the options available to you, including their likelihood of success and how long they might take.
Is going to court your only option, and if so, what are your chances of winning? Or is another method of resolution more likely to produce an outcome that’s favorable to you?
If you’re the one who’s considering legal action against a client and you win, how long will it take to actually receive your money? Would it be possible to place a lien on your client’s property, and if so, is this a good
A legal dispute often moves along slowly over a relatively long period of time. You’re busy with the day-to-day tasks of your business, but you’ll need to place your legal issue high on your priority list. Make sure
that if your attorney needs to meet with you or one of your employees or subcontractors, you’re prepared at the agreed-upon times with the needed documents.
You’ll need to be similarly prepared for any mediation meetings or court appearances. You can save yourself time and money in the long run and increase your chances of prevailing.
Make sure you understand the costs of your legal representation. Your attorney can help you understand the approximate cost of moving forward with one of your options. If the amount of money is relatively small, settling the case may be preferable to engaging in long, more expensive legal battle.
Whether you’re already facing the possibility of legal action or need help avoiding it in the future, an experienced real estate attorney can help protect you and your business. He or she can be an invaluable asset, giving professional advice on everything from how to draw up a contract that will hold up in court to defending yourself against legal issues to collecting from clients who withhold payment.
What To Do Next:
Just As Every Property Is Unique,
Every Property Transaction Is Unique
– And Not Every Lawyer Has Experience Handling Them.
Using the legal process strategically is much more than just handling filings, it’s understanding how the transaction fits into long term plans for the assets and the businesses that hold them.
Thomas Weiss & Associates, P.C. provides a Real Estate Strategy Session before every representation to ensure every client understands how the legal process can make a big difference in their ultimate financial outcome.
If I’m not the right attorney for your transaction, you have my commitment that I’ll point you in the right direction.
Just call my office at (516) 746-7452 to schedule.