This is the next post in our series on how Olympia and Tacoma, Washington contractors can handle construction disputes. My last article discussed instances when a contractor may have to attend an alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It is important to understand that attending ADR can be either mandatory, due to a contractual obligation to do so, or voluntary, arising from a desire to resolve disagreements without litigation. In this article I will discuss another topic – how companies can handle a breach of contract. If you require assistance, contact my office today to speak with a construction dispute lawyer.
Olympia & Tacoma contractors may be required to litigate a breach of contract in Washington’s Court system
Often, small to medium sized construction companies are not paid or are paid late for their work. In such a case, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit for breach of contract. A lawsuit for breach of contract is similar to other kinds of lawsuits. The case begins when one company files a Complaint with the Court. The defendant, or defendants (if there are multiple parties), will file an Answer (or Answers) which includes any counterclaim(s) the defendant(s) might have against the company that filed suit. If the parties cannot reach an early settlement, then the case goes through discovery (the process by which information is gained from the other side in a lawsuit) and concludes with a trial.
It is important to understand the complications involved in bringing a breach of contract lawsuit. The matter may not be as straightforward as arguing that work was performed without payment. The defendant(s) may file a counterclaim and argue that the work was not completed timely, adequately, or that that there was some other defect which entitles them to an offset or even damages from the contractor who filed suit. When such disputes arise, a jury or judge will decide what the obligations of each party were under the contract and whether those obligations were met. I cannot stress enough the fact that such matters can be complex and that no two cases are the same. It is important that you retain an experienced attorney to handle such matters.
Washington construction companies may take collective action after winning a breach of contract trial
If a Washington construction company takes a breach of contract action to trial, and prevails, then they will receive a judgement in their favor. They may then take steps to collect on the amount they have been awarded. These steps include the garnishment of bank accounts, the seizing of property, and more. Counsel can often assist with this collection process.
I regularly handle these types of cases on behalf of Olympia and Tacoma businesses. Contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation with a lawyer. Our firm also serves the Thurston County cities of Lacey, Tumwater, and Yelm, the Pierce County cities of Puyallup, and Lakewood, the Lewis County cities of Centralia, Chehalis, the King County cities of Seattle, Auburn, Bellevue, Burien, and Federal Way, as well as other areas in Washington, including Grays Harbor, Mason, Cowlitz, and Pacific Counties.