If you’re having issues with a contractor that you’ve hired to work on your home, repair your vehicle, sell items on an auction site, or complete any other service for you, you may be considering suing them. After all, it’s important to receive compensation for the time and energy that they’ve cost you, the damages that they may have caused, and the frustration that you’ve experienced. If you don’t know how to sue a contractor, however, there are some important factors to consider. For example, you can only sue contractors in specific situations, you’ll need to hire an attorney with the right skill set, and the process can take quite a bit of time.
This article will discuss the entire process, so if you’ve been wondering ‘How Do You Sue a Contractor?’ read on to learn more.
How Do You Sue a Contractor: When Should You Sue a Contractor?
Unfortunately, you can’t sue a contractor just for being slightly slower than you’d like, being a poor communicator, or being a pain to work with. There are several specific situations, and one of them has to apply for you to be able to start a lawsuit against a contractor. If none of these apply, it’s unlikely that you have a case. However, it’s also unwise to try to make this determination on your own. If you think you may have a lawsuit, consider reaching out to a local attorney. They can help you decide so that you don’t spend years wondering if you’ve made the right decision.
There are several situations where it always makes sense to consider contacting an attorney. These include:
Breach of Contract
For you to be able to sue a contractor for breach of contract, you must have a contract. For example, you cannot sue the forklift dealers that you trusted to deliver equipment on time if there was no contract specifying that you would have forklifts on-site on a specific date and time. You can’t sue a roofing contractor for not replacing your roof with specific materials if those materials weren’t included in the original contract. Put simply, if it matters to you, get it in writing.
Fraud or Deceit
You can also sue a contractor for fraud or deceit. This can include everything from someone misrepresenting their licensure or qualifications to someone cleaning your house one moment and stealing your earrings and googling ‘ where to sell jewelry‘ the next. If you experience a contractor lying to you about their services, misrepresenting their skills, stealing from you, or not delivering a service after you’ve paid them for it, it may fall under this category.
Another example would be promising one thing and delivering another, such as advertising used Dodge Ram parts for sale, then replacing the parts on your car with cheap overseas knockoff parts. If you’re able to clearly document that deceit has occurred, you can likely sue the contractor who performed the work.
Consumer Protection Act Violation
Many states have individual consumer protection acts, so it’s worth checking to see if the behavior of your contractor violates any state or local laws. You may find that you’re able to sue under these acts even if you can’t sue under one of the issues listed above. Typically consumer protection acts are designed to help consumers fight back against fraudulent business practices, predatory contractors, and contractors misrepresenting the services that they provide. If you’ve experienced any of these issues, it may be wise to speak to a local attorney to see if they can help you.
How Do You Sue a Contractor: Can You Sue a Contractor for Poor Workmanship?
Sometimes, you book a service with a contractor, they complete the job, and it’s absolutely nothing like you’d expected. The results are simply horrible, the workmanship is shoddy, and you’re unsatisfied. If this happens, it’s easy to file a complaint online and leave a negative review. But is there anything else that you can do? Can you sue a roofer for doing a poor job replacing your roof or a painter for doing a shoddy job on the exterior paint of your house?
Well, the answer is ‘It depends.’ In some situations, you may be able to sue a contractor quite easily. In other situations, the details may be a bit fuzzier and the process may be a bit more difficult.
If the contractor has clearly misrepresented themselves or their skills, then yes, it’s easy to see that you have a case against them. You may also be able to sue quite easily if you had a contract that clearly specified the deliverable and the results that they provided do not match. If you had more of a handshake and a promise situation, you may struggle in court. Speak with a local attorney to learn more about your options and what they’re able to do for you.
How Do You Sue a Contractor: How Do You Contact a Lawyer?
If you’ve never hired an attorney and have no legal knowledge, finding lawyers that match with a specific situation may seem overwhelming at first. However, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Often, lawyers will provide free consultations in areas that they specialize in so that they can evaluate potential cases and clients without it costing the client any money upfront. You should be able to do a quick Google search of attorneys in your area and come up with several who provide this type of service. Next, make a list of the ones who look like they have good reviews, provide services that match your needs, and seem to be in your price range if they’ve listed prices. You may also consider asking around to see if anyone you know has personal recommendations.
Then you can set up a few meetings, decide on the attorney that you like best, and begin gathering information. Skilled lawyers will often listen to the details of your situation and advise you as to whether or not it’s worth pursuing a case, how much you may be able to win in a settlement, and more — all within the first meeting. These initial evaluations are designed to help determine whether you and the attorney are a good fit and whether your case is worth pursuing. They’re often free, and they will help you learn more about the attorney. They also allow them to lay out their terms so that you can decide if they work well for you financially. Use this meeting to get to know each attorney that you’re considering. Take notes about your likes and dislikes, how you feel about them emotionally, the rates that they charge, and if they charge a fee upfront or only if you win your case. These details can all help you decide which attorney is the best fit for you.
How Do You Sue a Contractor: What Type of Lawyer Should You Contact?
Most people are only familiar with attorneys from either personal finance issues, commercials on television, or crime procedural dramas. This means that most common legal knowledge about emergency bail services, how to get a bail bond, and the things a criminal defense attorney says in closing arguments simply won’t apply to this type of situation. You don’t need a criminal attorney, a defense attorney, or a bankruptcy lawyer to help you in these types of situations — instead, you need a highly experienced business lawyer.
Many people don’t even know that business lawyers exist, but this is just the type of case that they handle. They specialize in business law, breach of contract, and contractors who have let their clients down. They can help determine if you have a case against the contractor that you’ve hired, and if you do, they can help you get the largest possible settlement. These attorneys are highly skilled and have made it their specialty to assess cases like yours to decide if they’re able to win. They’re usually happy to meet with you for an initial consultation, advise you whether or not they think you have a case, and then work with you to move forward with a lawsuit if they feel that it’s appropriate.
How Do You Sue a Contractor: How Long Does the Process Take?
If you’ve only seen court cases on television or in the news, it’s easy to think that they don’t take a long time. Unfortunately, these situations are often dramatically abbreviated. The actual process of a lawsuit, from the day that you decide that you’d like to contact an attorney to the day that you reach a settlement, can take months to years. The exact length of your specific case will depend on numerous factors, such as the complexity of your case, how many continuances are granted throughout the hearing, and how many witnesses are involved.
The more people that need to take the stand and provide information to the judge, and the more complicated that the case itself is, the longer you can expect the process to take. For example, if you have several people testifying on your side, and the contractor has numerous expert witnesses and character witnesses planned, you can then assume that the hearing may take quite a bit of time. There are more moving parts, and it may be necessary to adjust dates and times in order to accommodate everyone’s schedules.
However, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t mean that it’s not worth it. It may actually be a sign that you’re doing the right thing and standing up to a contractor when no one else has been willing to put in the time, energy, and effort in the past. You may be helping future consumers by limiting the damage that the contractor can do to their projects.
How Do You Sue a Contractor: What are Your Odds of Winning?
The odds of winning against a contractor may depend on numerous factors, including your geographical area, the evidence that you have, the contractor’s attorney, and the individuals present for the hearing. In addition, you’ll need to spend some time thinking about how you quantify ‘winning’. For example, you may never actually get back the money that you’ve lost, especially if the contractor either has very little money of their own or if they’ve hired an especially talented defense attorney.
This means you may have to settle for a portion of the money that you paid the contractor, or them facing a penalty such as a fine or losing a license. You may not be able to be reimbursed for work that had to be removed and completed again, your time, or your frustration with a job that is poorly done. However, in many situations, it is still well worth investing the time and energy to sue a contractor. Doing so helps to demonstrate that they cannot continue to treat consumers poorly and that there are individuals who are willing to stand up to shoddy business practices.
If you’ve been harmed by a contractor, it can be difficult to know precisely how to handle the situation or how to move forward. A talented business attorney can help you to determine if the contractor is in breach of contract, has misrepresented themselves, or has broken any laws. If they have, you may be able to sue them for a portion of the damages that they’ve caused, or they may even be liable for criminal penalties depending on the specific situation. Reach out to a local attorney to learn more about how they can help you in your situation. They’ll be happy to schedule a brief consultation with you to hear more about what’s happened, and then they can advise you as to whether or not it’s worth pursuing a lawsuit.