In a recent client conference, I was asked, “So what is arbitration, anyhow?” In the context of a construction claim or in seeking to prevent such a claim, there are several significant advantages that arbitration can provide in lieu of litigation. In today’s challenging business environment, this signifies awareness of the various options available that could make an important impact on your business’ circumstance.
Recently, a contractor asked me how to create a good contract. After further discussion, I understood that this contractor was not licensed, but wanted advice on obtaining a good contract. Well, what is a good contract after all?
Many homeowners who consult with me regarding construction disputes are not only financially damaged but emotionally distressed, and understandably so. Our homes are not only our biggest financial investments but our sanctuaries, and misconduct by unscrupulous contractors that damages those sanctuaries makes us feel that we have no place of safety and, in some instances, makes us worry that we may be homeless altogether. Thus, the question is often posed to me whether homeowners can collect damages for emotional distress that results from construction contract disputes, in addition to their economic damages.
General Business Law Section 756 (and the sections that follow it), commonly known as the Prompt Payment Act, establish requirements for how soon a construction contractor or subcontractor must be paid and allow expedited arbitration in the event that prompt payment is not made for qualifying projects.
Construction contracts in New York often place the architect or engineer in the additional role of an initial impartial decider as to any disagreement or disputes between the contractor and the owner, in addition to their roles as the design professionals.
Often times in discussions with contractors, I hear many of the same types of issues repeat themselves, and from the perspective of counsel, quite preventable. While not every potential problem on a project can be determined upfront, keeping the following 5 tips for contractors in mind might be helpful in preventing problems, improving business practices, and effectively managing risks.
Contractors are not only responsible for performing their contracted work, but are also charged with keeping the owner and the subcontractors working together to bring the project to completion successfully. Given this, they are regularly the subject of legal disputes. For this reason, many could benefit from an understanding of the following top 5 contractor defenses available in New York.
Given the large number and variety of documents required to administer a construction project today (plans, specifications, contracts, etc.), the likelihood of discrepancies arising between these different sources is almost unavoidable. Do you know how these documents rate in terms of their authority?
Many construction contracts in New York make reference to how or why one or both parties are provided the right to terminate the agreement. One such typical form of termination, ‘Termination for Convenience’, may be provided.
Can homeowners be held responsible for injuries that may occur to contractors while work is being done on their property? Many homeowners love new home face-lifts, but did they ever think what a dangerous home improvement job consisted of? Well, what happens if a contractor is injured while working? Who is responsible for their medical costs?
With respect to homeowner liability for contractor injuries in New York, homeowners of one or two family dwellings are exempt from liability from any contractor injuries suffered while work was performed on their property under labor law § 240 & § 241, unless he or she has directed or controlled the work being performed.
Under New York State Law §§ 240 and 241 a homeowner can be found liable for any resulting contractor injuries only if their contractor can show the homeowner provided specific instruction as to how work is to be performed or the homeowner provided certain tools or equipment to be used.
Although, incidental homeowner interactions are not sufficient to invoke homeowner liability for injuries, a showing of directing the actual work performance is necessary.