The basic definition of construction is the art, process, or manner of building something or something that is built or put together. There are many aspects to construction and many issues and disputes which may arise.

No matter the issue, question, or concern an individual has regarding any aspect of a construction project, LegalMatch can provide information and attorneys who are able to help. The following articles provide information on many aspects of construction and issues which may arise during the process.

What is Construction Law?

Construction laws are laws which govern all aspects of building, from the bidding process to negotiation and the drafting of contracts. These laws are the laws which govern disputes between parties regarding construction issues.

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What are Construction Accidents?

A construction site can be a dangerous place for any party who enters. Individuals and employees are injured on a construction site every day.

In many cases, construction companies will set up a system to provide compensation to any victims of injuries which are sustained at a construction site. The amount of compensation an injured individual receives will typically depend upon whether that individual is an employee or not in addition to the severity of their injuries.

The majority of construction accident issues are handled by attorneys who have experience in dealing with construction companies as well as their insurance companies, as the subject matter of these issues is often complicated.

Construction accidents which involve a bystander or a non-employee are usually treated the same as a normal personal injury matter. In other words, the injured party files a lawsuit against the general contractor in charge of the construction site, their insurance company, as well as any other responsible parties, which may include subcontractors or negligent employees.

If an employee is injured at a construction site while they are working, workers’ compensation laws will typically apply. This means that the claim for damages may be slightly different, and may include avoiding a lawsuit if any employer immediately provides the injured party with compensation instead.

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What are Construction Disputes?

There are numerous types of disputes which may arise related to construction projects. Construction projects include:

  • Construction work on buildings, such as residential homes and commercial buildings; and
  • Public works projects, which may include:
    • roadways;
    • highways; and
    • bridge construction.

Building construction includes industrial construction and commercial construction. Industrial construction includes construction on buildings where manufacturing work is performed.

Commercial instruction includes the construction of buildings, including:

  • Shopping malls;
  • Shopping centers; and
  • Other commercial centers.

The scope of a construction project is typically governed by a construction contract. A construction contract usually outlines the legal rights and responsibilities of building owners, builders, and architects.

Construction contract disputes may arise over numerous issues, including:

  • The precise work scope or work specifications. A builder or contractor and an owner may have a dispute over the specific work requirements the builder is required to follow. Disputes may also arise regarding the quality or cost of the construction materials. A dispute may also arise regarding when the contractor is required to complete the work;
  • The role and function of an architect. During a new construction project, an architect may work with a builder. The architect can interpret drawings and plans for the builder. Architects work with builders to ensure a specific level of quality and design;
  • The suitability of the subcontractor. Subcontractors are hired by builders to perform specific tasks. In some cases, a builder may try to substitute one subcontractor for another. The contract between the owner and the builder may not allow this;
  • Construction defects. Construction defects may include manufacturing defects and design defects. If, because of a defect, a laborer or member of the public is injured, the construction company and/or any subcontractors may be liable under:
  • Employment-related disputes. These disputes often involve proper payment of:
    • employees;
    • subcontractors; and
    • independent contractors.

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What are Dangerous Property or Buildings?

If an individual owns a building, property, or structure, they owe a duty of care to whomever visits that property. If their structure is dangerous and an individual who visits their property is injured, they may be liable.

A dangerous structure may become dangerous because of daily wear and tear or a lack of maintenance. A property owner has a duty to keep their property safe and maintained, whether that property is commercial or residential.

Examples of residential structures which may be considered to be dangerous include:

  • Balconies, decks, and porches;
  • Staircases and elevators; or
  • Handrails and other support beams.

Examples of commercial structures that may be considered to be dangerous include:

  • Stairwells;
  • Overhead lighting;
  • Overhead shelves;
  • Product displays; or
  • Faulty doors, such as automatic doors.

A business owes an additional duty of care to its employees to provide a safe and nonhazardous work environment. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is the agency that is responsible for ensuring safety at work for all employees.

OSHA is able to conduct inspections of workplaces. They also have the power to enforce standards, meaning that they can fine a business that does not meet the standards.

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What is a Mechanic’s Lien?

Mechanic’s liens are guarantees of payment to:

  • Builders;
  • Contractors; and
  • Construction firms.

Mechanic’s liens ensure that the working parties are paid prior to other parties, should liquidation occur. Mechanic’s liens may also be extended to other parties, including:

  • Material suppliers;
  • Subcontractors; and
  • Building repairs.

If a property owner does not pay for materials or services which have been provided, a worker can initiate a court proceeding to force the sale of the property to pay for the materials and services.

The lawns governing mechanic’s liens vary by state. Additionally, individual counties are typically responsible for their own property records, which means that one county clerk may have a particular method for the format of a lien which differs from that of other counties.

Individuals who are considered mechanics for the purpose of a mechanic’s lien may include:

  • Plumbers;
  • Painters;
  • Construction workers;
  • Carpenters;
  • Vehicle repair persons;
  • General contractors; and
  • Subcontractors.

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