Construction projects often involve numerous parties and sometimes disagreements happen. At best, these differences are resolved through negotiation and compromise, but sometimes you will be served with a lawsuit from one of the party’s lawyers. Here at Smiley Law we want you to know that even though you are being sued you have options.
Handling your Louisiana construction lawsuit starts with a basic understanding of who could be suing you and for what reason. There are typical players in every construction project. Your position in any lawsuit will depend on your role and which of the following parties initiated the lawsuit:
- Owner – an owner will generally initiate a lawsuit because they are not happy with the quality of work done or they feel that something has not been completed that should be.
- General or prime contractor – primes will sue subcontractors for alleged non-completion of work or because they are being pressured by owners to do extra work that you refused to do as it was not in the contract.
- Subcontractors or laborers – usually subs will sue for non-payment, but construction
injuries are also a typical focus for subcontractor lawsuits.
- Suppliers – lawsuits by suppliers are usually for non-payment but can also be for refusal by contractors of delivery despite the contracted supplies being provided.
- Lessors – these lawsuits are usually for non-payment or return of damaged equipment.
In each of these scenarios money damages will usually be sought, although courts also have the power to compel actions, such as completion of work or return of equipment. Once the suits are filed, the contract between the parties will be the first place to look for how issues should be resolved.
What Are My Options
When Getting Sued in Louisiana?
When you are served a complaint for a construction lawsuit in Louisiana, the one thing you must do is take action immediately. You cannot ignore it. Service of process, whether made to you personally, at your domicile or on a representative starts the clock on the lawsuit. For lawsuits in Louisiana you must respond in a state court within fifteen days from the date of service. Contact your attorney as soon as you get the lawsuit and let the attorney know what day it was served.
One of the first things we do here at Smiley Law for clients in this situation is request an extension of time to respond. This gives us more time to gather facts to better draft an answer and other responsive pleadings. It also provides us with breathing room to consider options other than litigation such as:
- Informal negotiations – often the plaintiff in a construction lawsuit turns to litigation because they do not think there are options; we have helped many clients avoid litigation by simply sitting down with the other party and working through differences.
- Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”) – many construction contracts contain ADR clauses that require parties to submit to formal alternatives to litigation that involve bringing in neutral third parties to hear the facts of the dispute and either issue a ruling (arbitration) or help negotiate a resolution (mediation).
We try to avoid being subjected to default judgment, where a judge issues an adverse ruling against you based on the complaint or pleadings, at all costs. If a default judgment is rendered against you or your company, it is the worst case scenario. Timing is everything, so if you are sued, contact your lawyer quickly. Regardless of how you decide to proceed having a qualified Louisiana construction dispute lawyer in your corner is key.
Whether you are a contractor, subcontractor, material supplier, equipment lessor, architect, engineer, homeowner or property owner we are here to help. The Smiley Law Group can guide you to a resolution of your construction law disputes. Contact the Smiley Law Group for a free consultation today.