Florida Payment Bond Claims For Public Projects: 4 Steps To Getting Paid
Florida contractors know that there are multiple options for ensuring payment on construction projects, and that a payment bond is the go-to when working with a government agency. The state’s “Little Miller” Act requires the primary contractor to procure a surety bond for any public construction exceeding $100,000. This provision aims to protect government property from being encumbered by a mechanics lien; it also protects lower tier subcontractors from going unpaid. If you are not in privity of contract with the state, county, local, or other public agency funding the project, you can file a payment bond claim with the surety.
Still, there are multiple steps you must complete, and Florida’s Little Miller Act imposes strict deadlines at different phases of the construction process. You should consult with a Palm Beach County construction lawyer about payment bond claims, but an overview of the process is informative.
- Obtain a copy of the payment bond paperwork. Your first priority when supplying labor or materials on a public project is getting a copy of the official payment bond posted by the general contractor. This may be as simple as requesting the paperwork, and it is the GC’s duty to provide it under the Little Miller Act. Having a copy in advance ensures you hit the ground running if you need to file a claim, since the bond will include all essential details.
- Forward the Notice to Contractor. This notice is required if you do not have a direct contract with the GC, so it is not necessary for first-tier subcontractors; for any sub, it is still a wise business practice to forward the Notice to Contractor. This document must be sent before starting work or within 45 days of furnishing materials or services. In it, you should provide information identifying your company and state your intentions to look to the bond for payment as necessary.
- Send the Notice of Nonpayment. By completing steps #1 and #2, you have preserved your rights under the payment bond. If you forward an invoice and it goes unpaid, it may be necessary to enforce them. The Notice of Nonpayment is essentially filing your claim against the bond, so you must forward it to the GC and the surety company. It must be sent no later than 90 days after the last work or materials were provided.
- Enforcing the payment bond in court. The Notice of Nonpayment may be sufficient to get the funds owed to you, but you may need to file a lawsuit to get paid. The deadline for suing in court is one year after the last date you furnished supplies or services.
Contact a Florida Payment Bond Claims Attorney to Learn More
This summary of the Little Miller Act requirements is useful, but there are numerous contingencies and complications that can develop when filing a payment bond claim in Florida. To learn how our team supports contractors in public construction projects, please contact the Florida bond claims lawyers at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. We can set up a consultation at our offices to review your circumstances and discuss next steps.