Construction litigation can be a complicated and costly process, but it may be necessary to protect your rights and interests. Before filing a claim, you need to understand the stages of construction litigation to enable you to make informed decisions and avoid common pitfalls. In this article, you’ll learn the critical stages of construction litigation:
The first stage of construction litigation is pre-litigation, which refers to the period before a lawsuit is filed. During this stage, you can resolve the dispute through negotiation or alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation or arbitration. ADR can be an effective way to resolve construction disputes because it is less formal and less expensive. It may also be faster and more flexible as it allows parties to craft their solutions.
However, not all disputes can be resolved through ADR. In some cases, litigation may be necessary. Before filing a lawsuit, you should conduct a thorough investigation and gather all the evidence required to support your claim. To obtain the needed information, you may have to review contracts, correspondence, and other relevant documents and interview witnesses and experts.
Filing A Complaint
If negotiations and ADR methods fail to resolve the dispute, the next stage is filing a complaint. This formal document initiates a lawsuit and sets forth the legal claims and factual allegations against the defendant. The complaint must be filed in the appropriate court and served on the defendant according to the rules of civil procedure. It’s essential to work with an experienced construction litigation attorney if you want your complaint to be properly drafted and filed. Any mistakes or omissions could result in the dismissal of your case.
After the complaint has been filed and served, the parties enter the discovery stage of construction litigation. During this process, each side gathers and exchanges information and evidence related to the dispute. Discovery can take several forms, including written interrogatories, document requests, depositions, and requests for admissions.
Discovery is a critical stage of construction litigation because it allows each party to uncover and assess the strengths and weaknesses of the other side’s case. It also helps narrow the dispute issues and may lead to settlement negotiations or ADR.
During the discovery stage, either party may file a motion with the court seeking to resolve a particular issue or dispute. For example, a party may file a motion for summary judgment, which asks the court to rule in their favor based on the evidence gathered during discovery. A party may also file a motion to compel discovery, which seeks to force the other side to produce documents. Motions can assist in resolving issues in construction litigation without the need for a trial.
If parties cannot resolve the dispute through ADR, settlement negotiations, or motion practice, the case will proceed to trial. Construction litigation trials can be complex and may involve many issues, including breach of contract, negligence, and defective design or construction. They can also be expensive.
During the trial, each side presents its evidence and arguments to a judge or jury, who makes a decision based on the facts and applicable law. It’s essential to work with an experienced construction litigation attorney who can effectively present your case and cross-examine witnesses.
After a trial, either party may file an appeal if they believe that the trial court made a legal error.
The Bottom Line
Construction litigation can be a complex and challenging process. However, understanding the stages of litigation can help you make informed decisions and protect your interests. Contact an experienced attorney if you want to stay focused on your goals and protect your interests.