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Ever get the feeling that construction projects and disputes go hand in hand? Whether the dispute is about the terms of the construction contract, the performance of the construction workers and contractors, payment, or related to a mechanic’s lien, you will need an attorney to sort through all of the complex legal issues associated with construction project disputes in Louisiana.

If you are a general contractor, subcontractor, material supplier or even a lessor of equipment used on a project, you may want to file a mechanic’s lien to ensure payment on a project. An experienced Louisiana construction law attorney can prepare the required documents as well as file and enforce mechanic’s liens. For more information on Mechanic’s Liens, see [Mechanic Liens].

Reviewing the complex process of filing suit for construction project disputes is the best illustration of why you will need a construction attorney.

  • 1.Consult with an attorney: An experienced construction law attorney will not only know the applicable laws, they will also be able to plan out the best strategies for your suit.
  • 2.Draft the Complaint: In Louisiana, the first step in initiating a lawsuit is drafting a complaint. Usually an initial complaint provides background information, a description of the dispute, details about how the injuries were suffered, and why the person being sued is responsible for those injuries. All complaints should end with a request for relief, which is a brief statement asking the court for some specific award or relief, such as monetary damages, an injunction, or performance of a contract.
  • 3.Service upon the Defendant: After filing the complaint with the appropriate court and paying the required filing fees, the complaint must then be served on the defendant. Service requirements are fairly strict, in that there are specific time and delivery rules, another reason an attorney can be invaluable.
  • 4.Await Defendant’s Response: Once the complaint is filed and the defendant is served and notified of the lawsuit, a waiting period begins, allowing the defendant to file an answer to the complaint. If the defendant doesn’t respond within a certain period of time, they are said to have “defaulted” and the court then enters a default judgment, causing the suit to end in favor of the plaintiff. However, if the defendant provides a response, the case will go forward through trial to a final judgment.
  • 5.Appeals in Louisiana: The courts have laid down strict standards that must be met for an appeal to be considered. “The test for determining whether an interlocutory judgment may cause irreparable injury is whether any error in the judgment may be corrected as a practical matter on appeal following the determination of the merits[1].”
  • 6.Your appeals attorney should be able to correctly draft, file and litigate through the requirements found in the Appellant’s Brief Preparation Checklist.
  • 7.Construction law appeals can be complex due to unique characteristics and facets of the industry. For example, a mechanic’s lien must be addressed in an appeal. Also, there are strict requirements for change orders, and the consequences for deviation from the requirements can have important legal penalties, all which can affect an appeal.

If you are involved with any type of construction project dispute in Louisiana, you will need to contact an attorney, like the experienced attorneys at Smiley Law, today!

[1] In re Depland, 2003-0385 p. 2 (La. App. 4 Cir. 8/6/03), 854 So. 2d 438, 440; White Oak, Inc. v. Katz & Simone, 515 So. 2d 476, 476-77 (La. App. 1 Cir. 1987).

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