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Can a Client Sue a Late Contractor?


As a contractor, you know that delays are common in the construction industry. There’s always something holding up the project. Maybe permits are taking forever to get approved. Perhaps the materials you ordered are now on backorder. Maybe there is miscommunication with the client. Or perhaps poor weather such as rain and snow is making it difficult to do any work.

Sometimes delays are outside the contractor’s control. On the other hand, in some cases, the contractor may be the one causing the delays. As a contractor, you may be concerned about what the client can do to you. Can they sue you?

Any viable lawsuit based on construction delays would be based on the following factors:

  • Is the delay critical or not? One delay in a particular part of the home may not necessarily prevent the entire construction project from being completed on time. But if it does, then it is considered a critical delay.
  • What was the reason for the delay? Was the contractor simply refusing to show up to work or was there a valid reason, such as a natural disaster?
  • If the contractor’s delay is outside of their control, then they may get an extension of time or even additional compensation to complete the project. An inexcusable delay would be noncompensable.

Excusable vs. Inexcusable Delays

Whether or not a client could sue a contractor for a delay would depend on whether the delay was excusable or inexcusable. A client typically would not have a strong case if the delay was excusable. Some examples include:

  • Severe weather
  • Natural disasters
  • Supply shortages
  • Scheduling conflicts
  • Budget issues
  • Miscommunication

An inexcusable delay would be one that the contractor is liable for and could have been avoided. This would include any construction delay that is caused by the negligence or intentional actions of the contractor, or someone the contractor is responsible for, such as an employee. For example, a builder who doesn’t show up on the job site consistently, or overbooks their workers, may be liable for damages.

As a contractor, keep in mind that delays work both ways. You may also be able to sue the owner in some situations. If the client has caused a construction delay, you can hold them liable for any losses you sustain. Even small delays can have a ripple effect that can cause damages to add up quickly.

Contact Us Today

Contractors need to ensure they are abiding by their contract with a client. Delays can cause a lot of frustration for a client and they can even result in legal issues.

If you are being sued by a client for any reason, try to discuss the matter with them. Then seek legal help from a Florida construction contract lawyer from Linkhorst Law Firm, P.A. We know how to create contracts that are fair and protect your legal rights. Fill out the online form or call 561-626-8880 to schedule a consultation.



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