The Importance of Documenting Project Delays and Damages Caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic
Our team has written at length about force majeure contract clauses. These essential contract clauses can provide contractors with needed relief in the event of an unforeseen circumstance, such as a global pandemic. And while these contract clauses are a welcomed safety net for contractors on projects delayed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), they must not be seen as an automatic “get out of jail free” card.
Below, a Nashville construction dispute lawyer with our law firm discusses why and how you should document project delays and damages caused by COVID-19. Failure to properly detail damages, whether they are related to delays or rising material costs, could result in an avoidable dispute where you are held liable for those damages.
Building Your Case
Construction projects across the country are in various stages of disruption. Some projects are delayed while others are outright shut down. As labor becomes scarce, material costs rise, and delays increase, the question of who is responsible will grow in the minds of contractors and owners alike. There are numerous factors that influence where responsibility falls, and they’re mostly contained in the contract.
Depending on your construction contract, you may be required to provide written notice to the owner informing them of any delays. Your contract may also contain a “no damages for delays” clause, which only allows for a time extension in the event of unforeseen circumstances. Although you may be able to overcome no-damages-for-delays contract clauses, you’ll need to document project delays and damages in order to do so. Consult a coronavirus construction lawyer with our law firm for contract review services.
If you have not already done so, you must keep accurate records of delays and damages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Have material prices and availability changed? Is labor becoming increasingly scarce? Are delays piling up as subcontractors tackle similar issues? Each cost will need to be accounted for. If you can’t prove that these costs were unavoidable and that you made every attempt to remedy them, a dispute may be unavoidable.
Keeping Expectations Realistic
Although disputes are almost always decided by contract provisions, a Nashville construction dispute lawyer can tell you that legal disputes often stem from misunderstandings. Project owners are not inherently unreasonable; they have expectations that they expect to be met. Sometimes those expectations are unrealistic, especially given the challenges currently facing the industry.
Documenting and properly informing owners of the delays that your team is facing can go a long way towards avoiding costly and time-consuming litigation. If you’ve properly informed an owner of delays caused by COVID-19 only to find that they are still refusing to cooperate, consult a Nashville construction dispute attorney with Cotney Attorneys & Consultants for help determining the best course of action.
If you would like to speak with a coronavirus construction attorney, please contact us today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.