Proving A Payment Bond Claim Under Florida’s “Little Miller” Act
Whether you work on public construction projects regularly or once in a while, you know that the general contractor is required to have a payment bond in place in most cases. The Florida’s Little Miller Act imposes this requirement to avoid a situation where an unpaid subcontractor could establish mechanic lien rights on public property. The GC must arrange for a payment bond on any project valued at $100,000 or more, though there are some exceptions for projects valued at less than $200,000 – subject to approval from the government agency.
It is reassuring to know that subcontractors have legal remedies for nonpayment, but you might not know where to begin with taking action. These cases are complicated, so it is wise to trust a Florida bond claims lawyer for help with enforcing your rights. However, an overview of what you need to prove is helpful for understanding the basics.
Elements of a Florida Payment Bond Claim
Construction bonds are based upon written agreements between the GC, the property owner, and the surety who provides the bond. For a subcontractor who does not receive payment, the remedy is akin to a breach of contract – even though you are not a party to the surety arrangement. To enforce your right to payment, you must prove:
- You supplied the labor and/or supplies in accordance with your subcontract with the GC;
- You were not paid by the GC after complying with your end of the bargain;
- You furnished services and/or materials based upon a belief that you did so in accordance with the primary contract between the GC and owner; and
- You met all legal requirements established by the Little Miller Act.
With respect to #4, the key is whether you gave proper notices as designated by the statute, i.e., you sent preliminary notices, a Notice of Intent to make a bond claim, and met other criteria.
Two Important Tips for Payment Bond Claims
If you are working on a project that requires a payment bond, whether under the Little Miller Act or when a private contract mandates it, make sure you get a copy before starting work. You are entitled to this documentation as a contractor, so do not wait until you run into problems before requesting payment bond information.
As a second tip, always consult with a payment bond claims attorney if you run into problems – or anticipate challenges in getting paid. Your lawyer can assist with the paperwork and obtaining the evidence needed to prove the four elements described above.
Our South Florida Bond Claims Attorneys Will Enforce Your Rights
Knowing the elements of a payment bond claim is helpful, and these important tips will ensure you are in a good position to make your bond claim. Still, because of the complexities in the legal process, you should count on our team at Linkhorst & Hockin, P.A. to assist. To learn how we support subcontractors in Little Miller Act payment bond claims, please contact our Jupiter, FL offices to schedule a consultation.