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Lawmakers in many states pushing to make defect litigation harder

Nationwide, many of the current state statutes regulating construction defects were passed in the 1990s and 2000s. Now, lawmakers in many states are revisiting those statutes, seeking to make it more difficult to sue a builder or developer in order to prevent frivolous claims.

In many places, especially states with heavy new home building, construction defect litigation takes up a huge percentage of the court docket. While some of those claims are legitimate, critics say many suits are filed to take advantage of rules forcing the losing party to pay the winning party’s legal fees, to use as leverage in settlement talks.

Bills in several legislatures hope to stop dubious litigation by raising the standard of evidence plaintiffs must show at the beginning. For example, in many bills the plaintiff would have to present significant detail about how the defendants’ alleged negligence damaged their home. Several lawmakers would also end the automatic payment of the winning party’s legal fees.

Being in the construction industry means being potentially at risk of litigation whenever a property owner claims there is a defect due to negligence. But it would not take many frivolous suits to put a construction company in serious jeopardy. Like homeowners, builders need to be treated fairly by the law, so that they have a chance to assert their rights at trial.

The best way for a builder accused of allowing a defect to occur is to hire a business law attorney with experience in construction cases. He or she can examine the evidence, negotiate a potential settlement or represent the business during trial.

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