Four Areas a Construction Company Should Invest in to Be Ready for Legal Cases

In the construction industry, legal disputes can arise suddenly and without warning, posing significant risks to a company’s reputation and financial stability. 

According to Construction Dive, the average value of construction disputes in North America surged by 42% last year, reaching $42.8 million. This was up from $30.1 million previously. Surprisingly, the largest single claim reached an astonishing $2 billion. 

In light of these staggering figures, construction companies need to make strategic investments in key areas. This will proactively mitigate legal risks and ensure they are well-equipped to manage any legal challenges that may arise. 

Here are five key areas to focus on:

Legal Counsel and Compliance Expertise

One of the most fundamental investments a construction company can make is in legal counsel and compliance expertise. Building a relationship with a construction-focused law firm or hiring an in-house legal team can provide invaluable support. 

These professionals can offer guidance on compliance with local building codes, zoning laws, environmental regulations, and contractual obligations. They can also provide early intervention to resolve disputes before they escalate into legal battles.

Actionable Steps

  • Establish a Relationship: Engage with a law firm that specializes in construction law to provide ongoing advice and support.
  • Compliance Audits: Conduct regular compliance audits to verify that all legal and regulatory requirements are being met consistently.
  • Contract Review: Have legal experts review and negotiate contracts to mitigate potential legal risks.

Documentation and Record Keeping

According to a 2023 survey conducted by Adobe Acrobat, nearly half of the respondents (48%) expressed challenges in quickly and efficiently finding documents. Additionally, almost an equal number (47%) found their company’s online filing system to be confusing and ineffective. 

This highlights a significant issue in document management that many companies face today. 

Comprehensive and organized documentation is crucial for defending against legal claims. From the moment a project begins until its completion, maintaining accurate records of contracts, correspondence, change orders, and project plans is essential. These records safeguard your company’s interests in the event of a dispute.

Clear and accessible documentation not only helps in resolving disputes efficiently but also ensures transparency and accountability throughout the project lifecycle.

Actionable Steps

  • Document Management Systems: Implement a robust document management system to organize and secure project documents.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Develop SOPs for documentation that include protocols for recording site conditions, daily activities, and communications.
  • Training: Train staff on the importance of thorough documentation and the procedures for maintaining accurate records.

Safety and Risk Management

Safety and risk management are paramount in the construction industry, particularly in challenging conditions, to prevent accidents and mitigate legal risks.  

According to Construction Dive, in 2022, more construction workers lost their lives on the job than in any other industry sector. There were 1,069 fatalities among construction professionals, translating to a rate of 9.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers.

Ensuring comprehensive safety protocols and effective risk management strategies is crucial for construction companies to protect their workforce and mitigate legal risks. 

A recent incident at the University of Chicago Medical Center’s Comprehensive Cancer Center Building construction site serves as a poignant example. Jeffrey A. Spyrka, a 36-year-old ironworker, fell 100 ft from scaffolding due to high winds, resulting in severe, life-altering injuries. Tragically, his colleague, David O’Donnell, lost his life in the accident, as reported by Engineering News-Record. 

The construction work at such heights should have been halted during the high winds. Negligence in observing safety protocols led to this tragic loss.

In response to the incident, Spyrka has filed a personal injury case against Turner Construction Co., seeking compensation. He is being represented by a personal injury attorney in Chicago, IL

These attorneys work to ensure that the rights of workers are protected. They also strive to secure the compensation workers deserve for tragic accidents, TorHoerman Law notes.

Construction companies must prioritize stringent safety measures to prevent such devastating incidents from occurring in the future. 

Actionable Steps

  • Enhanced Safety Protocols: Develop and enforce strict safety protocols that include guidelines for working at heights and during adverse weather conditions.
  • Regular Safety Inspections: Conduct frequent safety inspections of scaffolding and other equipment to ensure compliance with safety standards, especially in challenging weather.
  • Employee Training: Provide comprehensive training to workers on safety procedures, hazard recognition, and emergency response, emphasizing protocols for adverse weather.
  • Collaboration with Safety Experts: Partner with safety experts and consultants to conduct risk assessments and improve safety practices.

Technology and Data Analytics

Advancements in technology and data analytics can provide construction companies with valuable tools for risk assessment, project monitoring, and dispute resolution. According to Forbes, Autodesk, a leading company in software for architecture, engineering, and construction, is at the forefront of the industry’s digital transformation. 

Autodesk invested approximately $1.4 billion in research and development in 2023, which accounts for about 25% of its revenue. This investment has resulted in capabilities like predictive analytics to help with decision-making.

Apart from leveraging such software, construction companies can take steps with the help of:

  • Construction Management Software: Invest in construction management software that facilitates project tracking, document management, and communication.
  • Building Information Modeling (BIM): Utilize BIM to enhance project planning, reduce errors, and improve collaboration.
  • Data Analytics: Use data analytics to identify trends, predict risks, and optimize project performance.

FAQs

What are Common Legal Issues Faced by Construction Companies?

Common legal issues faced by construction companies include contract disputes, payment disputes, delays and disruptions, construction defects, regulatory compliance issues, and workplace safety violations.

What Types of Compensation can be Claimed in a Personal Injury Lawsuit Against a Construction Company?

In a personal injury lawsuit against a construction company, claimants can seek compensation for medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, disability, and disfigurement. 

What is BIM, And How is it Utilized in the Construction Industry?

Building Information Modeling (BIM) refers to a digital model that represents the physical and functional aspects of a building. It is used in construction to enhance design visualization, detect clashes, manage scheduling, and estimate costs, thereby improving project coordination and reducing errors.

To sum it up, by investing in these four key areas, construction companies can significantly enhance their readiness to tackle legal cases. Proactive investments in these areas reduce legal risks as well as promote a culture of compliance, safety, and excellence within the organization. 

Ultimately, being prepared for legal challenges ensures that your construction company can focus on delivering high-quality projects while safeguarding its reputation and profitability.