Anticipating Construction Industry Legal Issues for 2019

A new year is upon us, which means it is the perfect time to look back at what went right and wrong in 2018 and to look forward to what can be reasonably expected and planned for in 2019. A recent “Builder” magazine article helps readers anticipate legal issues likely to surface for those in the construction industry over the next 12 months.

“The start of a new year is a good time to reflect on challenges and weaknesses in order to prevent litigation,” the writer states, noting that “proactive planning and management” can help firms and individuals to avoid construction defect litigation in many (but not all) situations.

Near the top of his list of issues to be aware of this year: a “tighter labor force could lead to more claims.” That is, continuing low unemployment rates throughout the Mid-Atlantic area will make it difficult for general contractors and others to find skilled, experienced workers. A shortage of skilled laborers and qualified craft workers “will likely lead to an influx in construction defect and inefficiency claims.”

He says that likelihood will become even more significant if the pace of construction continues to pick up. In many situations, firms will find that they simply don’t have “a sufficient number of workers on site to perform the work as planned” such that making do with less-skilled employees can quickly lead to costly mistakes without careful planning and oversight.

The writer also notes that he expects construction defect claims to become even more commonplace. He says “in today’s litigious environment” people are often so eager to go straight into litigation that they don’t pause long enough to perform simple due diligence that would “ensure that good money is not being wasted on needless litigation.”

Of course, it is also clear that contractors and developers with working relationships with law firms experienced in construction defect litigation will also find disputes more quickly and cost-effectively resolved.

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