Responding To And Preparing For Construction Accidents
For as much planning and negotiating that goes in to construction contracts prior to actually beginning construction, such projects nevertheless rarely go according to plan, and there are often delays. While some delays, such as weather-related delays or unforeseen issues with government entities, are unavoidable and must be shouldered by all parties, there is however, one delay that can create major problems – an accident. Although, as the adage goes, accidents do happen, how a company responds to the accident can not only dramatically affect the reputation of that company, but also may play a major role in whether the company can remain in business. Further, preparing for the worst in advance of a construction accident will help the company weather any issues. The tragedy surrounding the collapse of the bridge at Florida International University is, unfortunately, a stark reminder of the need for a company to both prepare in advance of an accident, as well as how best to respond to such accidents, if and when they happen. A discussion of how to prepare for and respond to an accident will follow below.
Although parties to a construction contract do not anticipate accidents, sometimes they happen, and lawsuits involving claims of construction defects may come from those who are injured. Construction defects show up in one of two ways – patent and latent. Patent defects are obvious, while those that are not so obvious and may manifest themselves sometime in the future are called latent defects. Regardless, construction defects generally will reduce the value of the structure, and, in some cases, can cause an accident. Defective construction can involve an outrigtht failure on the part of a contractor to properly perform, design deficiencies, product deficiencies, manufacturing failures, or maintenance issues. Some of the most common defective construction claims involve:
- Air leaks, which can make climate control inefficient;
- Water leaks, which can lead to mold;
- Structural cracking, which is typically a harbinger of another structural issue;
- Settlement and drainage issues; and
- Finishing issues.
Anticipating An Accident
One way to prepare for the unthinkable is to ensure that your contractors have protection against construction defects. This means ensuring that the contractors performing the work are properly licensed and experienced with the type of construction and that they are properly insured.
Responding To An Accident
When an accident does happen, an injured party may have a valid claim against the contractor. An experienced construction attorney should be contacted to review the construction contract and documentation in an effort to gauge where liability may lie. Specifically, a construction attorney can assist with ascertaining whether the fault constitutes professional malpractice on the part of a design professional or defective construction on the part of a contractor or subcontractor, and what actions may be at your disposal. The consequences of a design error can be serious, as the situation referenced above at Florida International University indicates. Accordingly, consulting with a legal professional can help you navigate any negative issues and potentially save your business.
Seek Assistance From A Construction Attorney
Preparing for the worst circumstance is an important, but often overlooked, aspect of a construction project. Unfortunately, glossing over this aspect until a problem occurs may be too late. Thus, do not put off your due diligence, and speak with the experienced construction attorneys at the Jupiter law firm of Linkhorst & Hockin. Our attorneys have years of experience representing owners, condominium and homeowners associations, general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, design professionals and sureties, and can help you both prepare for or recover from an accident. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.